Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. Christophe Darnault

Committee Member

Dr. Ronald W. Falta

Committee Member

Dr. Lawrence C. Murdoch


Toxoplasma gondii is a pathogenic microorganism that is currently a threat to public health. Understanding the fate and transport of T. gondii through the soil and groundwater is vital in determining the risk it poses to water resources and human health. The physico-chemical interactions between the groundwater and the bio colloid within an aquifer will dictate its mobility and its ability to infect humans. This research examines how various naturally occurring groundwater chemistries containing organic compounds and monovalent and divalent salt solutions will alter the fate and transport of T. gondii. Solutions containing various concentrations of humic acid, fulvic acid, sodium chloride, calcium chloride, and magnesium chloride were created to test the transport of T. gondii. These tests were performed in a saturated silica sand column with continuous flow in order to simulate the movement of groundwater through an aquifer. Organic solutions and salt solutions were pumped through the columns followed by a pulse of T. gondii oocysts. The pulse of T. gondii was followed by seven pore volumes of organic and salt solution in order to flush the oocyst through the simulated aquifer. The effluent exiting the columns was collected in tenth of pore volume increments in order to determine the factors associated with the transport of T. gondii. The effluent samples were then processed using qPCR in order to quantify the oocysts present in the solution. Breakthrough curve results from the qPCR analysis were then compared to the non-reactive tracer tests to determine the parameters that dictate the transport of T. gondii in saturated porous media.



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