Background Third Fork Creek is a historically impaired urban stream that flows through the city of Durham, North Carolina. Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) are non-parasitic, soil and aquatic dwelling nematodes that have been used frequently as a biological and ecotoxicity model. We hypothesize that exposure to Third Fork Creek surface water will inhibit the reproduction and chemotaxis of C. elegans. Using our ring assay model, nematodes were enticed to cross the impaired water samples to reach a bacterial food source which allowed observation of chemotaxis. The total number of nematodes found in the bacterial food source and the middle of the plate with the impaired water source was recorded for three days.
Results Our findings suggest a reduction in chemotaxis and reproduction on day three in nematodes exposed to Third Fork Creek water samples when compared to the control (pvalue<0.05). These exploratory data provide meaningful insight to the quality of Third Fork Creek located near a Historically Black University.
Conclusions Further studies are necessary to elucidate the concentrations of the water contaminants and implications for human health. The relevance of this study lies within the model C. elegans, that has been used in a plethora of human diseases and exposure research but can be utilized as an environmental indicator of water quality impairment.