student profile: Miss Emily White


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Thesis work

Thesis title: Microbial populations and pathogens in agricultural water sources

Supervisors: Floris VAN OGTROP , Robyn MCCONCHIE

Thesis abstract:

Fresh produce can be exposed to microbial contamination at all points in the supply chain; this project will focus on the microbial risks associated with agricultural irrigation water used pre-harvest. Water and sediment samples will be collected from a range of agricultural irrigation sources under different environmental conditions and within different irrigation catchments. Sampling will continue over a time period of up to two years in order to observe seasonal and temporal variations. Microbes in the samples will be detected, identified, and quantified using next-generation sequencing methods. A comprehensive database will be generated from this information and from industry partners for the purpose of statistical analysis and trend monitoring. This database will be used to identify the sources and characteristics of irrigation water that would most likely result in the contamination of fresh produce with microbes, with an emphasis on those pathogens that can cause human illness.

This research project will be conducted within the ARC Industrial Transformation Training Centre (ITTC) for Food Safety in the Fresh Produce Industry. Industry partners associated with this project are: the Fresh Produce Safety Centre, Coles, GSF Fresh, and Freshcare.

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