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People >Dr. Bala Ramaswami


Post-doctoral Research Associate

Completed her work in May 2005.

Research: Using bacteriophages to elucidate the sources of phosphorus pollution for Table Rock Lake.

We studied the use of bacteriophages as biological tracers in surface waters and waste waters. Bacteriophages are neither toxic nor pathogenic for other living organisms as they penetrate only a specific bacterial host. Specific bacteriophages are shed by bacteria in the human gut and can be used as markers for phosphate pollution in lakes. The bacteriophages of Bacteroides fragilis have been proven to be specifically present in human faeces. Such bacteriophages are very specific and finding these bacteriophages together with phosphate in a lake indicates that phosphate pollution is due to human activity rather than, for example, wildlife. Understanding the source of pollution is of utmost importance to improve the water quality of lakes in the USA.