Environmental determinants of Vibrio parahaemolyticus in the Chesapeake Bay

Benjamin J.K. Davis, John M. Jacobs, Meghan F. Davis, Kellogg J. Schwab, Angelo DePaola, Frank C. Curriero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Vibrio parahaemolyticus naturally occurs in brackish and marine waters and is one of the leading causes of seafood-borne illness. Previous work studying the ecology of V. parahaemolyticus has often been limited in geographic extent and lacked a full range of environmental measures. This study used a unique large data set of surface water samples in the Chesapeake Bay (n = 1,385) collected from 148 monitoring stations from 2007 to 2010. Water was analyzed for more than 20 environmental parameters, with additional meteorological and surrounding land use data. The V. parahaemolyticus-specific genetic markers thermolabile hemolysin (tlh), thermostable direct hemolysin (tdh), and tdh-related hemolysin (trh) were assayed using quantitative PCR (qPCR), and interval-censored regression models with nonlinear effects were estimated to account for limits of detection and quantitation. tlh was detected in 19.6% of water samples; tdh or trh markers were not detected. The results confirmed previously reported positive associations for V. parahaemolyticus abundance with temperature and turbidity and negative associations with high salinity (>10 to 23‰). Furthermore, the salinity relationship was determined to be a function of both low temperature and turbidity, with an increase of either nullifying the high salinity effect. Associations with dissolved oxygen and phosphate also appeared stronger when samples were taken near human developments. A renewed focus on the V. parahaemolyticus ecological paradigm is warranted to protect public health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017


  • Biostatistics
  • Chesapeake Bay
  • Environmental microbiology
  • Public health
  • Spatial
  • Temporal
  • Vibrio parahaemolyticus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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