The educational outreach programme managed by the University of Waikato - The Science Learning Hub - brought together ESR scientists to talk about a range of topics related to water quality.
Although the videos below date back to 2008, and include some tools and techniques that have evolved since, much of the information is still relevant today.
Click on the links below to watch short videos on our work:
Why it is important that we manage our water resource
ESR scientist Dr Chris Nokes describes why it is important that we manage our water resource so that disease-causing organisms are eliminated from our drinking and recreational water.
What are viruses?
Viruses are extremely small infectious particles that need to infect cells in order to replicate themselves. Viruses infect every form of cellular life, from plants and animals to bacteria and some viruses are capable of causing disease in the organisms they infect.
Detecting viruses in the environment and our drinking water
Dr Wendy Williamson describes techniques and tools used to detect viruses in the environment. Previously used methods of detection, such as culture, work well in a medical situation but are unable to detect viruses in the environment. Also discussed is the development of a method for detecting viruses in water.
Faecal source tracking
When waterways become contaminated with faeces, an important step in contamination management is identifying the source of the pollution. ESR has a range of molecular and chemical techniques to help identify the source of faecal contamination of water whether it is from farm, domestic or feral animals, humans or birds.
Watch the Chemical approaches to detection video
Watch the Identifying bacteria video
Identifying common sources of disease outbreaks
ESR Scientist Dr Brent Gilpin explains how pulsed field gel electrophoresis is used to separate very large fragments of DNA. DNA from an organism is digested with an enzyme and run on a gel, which gives a barcode that is unique to that organism. This system is used to identify common sources of disease outbreaks.
The effect of sediment on water quality
ESR scientist Dr Chris Nokes discusses the effect sediment can have on microorganisms in the water. It is possible that microorganisms survive longer in sediment than they do in water, and when it rains, this sediment is stirred up and the water becomes difficult to treat.
What is a bacteriophage?
ESR scientist Dr Brent Gilpin explains that a bacteriophage, or phage, is a virus that infects bacteria. He describes how a phage can be easily detected in the lab by plating bacteria on an agar plate. When clear spots appear on a ‘lawn’ of bacteria, it shows that the phage has infected and killed areas of bacteria.