Date of Award

6-2013

Degree Name

MS in Computer Science

Department

Computer Science

Advisor

Alexander Dekhtyar

Abstract

To date, microbial source tracking (MST), i.e. determining the source of microbial contamination based on the specific strains observed in the environment, often uses methods that are time-consuming, expensive and not always reliable. The biology department at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo has developed a new method for MST called pyroprinting. Pyroprints can be used as DNA fingerprints for identifying sources of fecal contamination and studying bacterial populations in host animals. The MST method consists of two parts: the pyroprinting process and a database of pyroprints. The Cal Poly Library of Pyroprints (CPLOP) was developed to provide a database application for automating the storage and analysis of pyroprints. The initial version of CPLOP provided support for storing and organizing data related to microbes and their sources. This thesis describes the additional analytical tools needed to fully support pyroprinting as an MST method. This includes the ability to organize pyroprints into dataets, detect erroneous pyroprint data, run analyses to find similarities between bacterial isolates, and cluster isolates into bacterial strains.

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