Human-Associated Bacteroides spp. and Human Polyomaviruses as Microbial Source Tracking Markers in Hawaii.
ABSTRACT: Identification of sources of fecal contaminants is needed to (i) determine the health risk associated with recreational water use and (ii) implement appropriate management practices to mitigate this risk and protect the environment. This study evaluated human-associated Bacteroides spp. (HF183TaqMan) and human polyomavirus (HPyV) markers for host sensitivity and specificity using human and animal fecal samples collected in Hawaii. The decay rates of those markers and indicator bacteria were identified in marine and freshwater microcosms exposed and not exposed to sunlight, followed by field testing of the usability of the molecular markers. Both markers were strongly associated with sewage, although the cross-reactivity of the HF183TaqMan (also present in 82% of canine [n = 11], 30% of mongoose [n = 10], and 10% of feline [n = 10] samples) needs to be considered. Concentrations of HF183TaqMan in human fecal samples exceeded those in cross-reactive animals at least 1,000-fold. In the absence of sunlight, the decay rates of both markers were comparable to the die-off rates of enterococci in experimental freshwater and marine water microcosms. However, in sunlight, the decay rates of both markers were significantly lower than the decay rate of enterococci. While both markers have their individual limitations in terms of sensitivity and specificity, these limitations can be mitigated by using both markers simultaneously; ergo, this study supports the concurrent use of HF183TaqMan and HPyV markers for the detection of sewage contamination in coastal and inland waters in Hawaii.This study represents an in-depth characterization of microbial source tracking (MST) markers in Hawaii. The distribution and concentrations of HF183TaqMan and HPyV markers in human and animal fecal samples and in wastewater, coupled with decay data obtained from sunlight-exposed and unexposed microcosms, support the concurrent application of HF183TaqMan and HPyV markers for sewage contamination detection in Hawaii waters. Both markers are more conservative and more specific markers of sewage than fecal indicator bacteria (enterococci and Escherichia coli). Analysis of HF183TaqMan (or newer derivatives) is recommended for inclusion in future epidemiological studies concerned with beach water quality, while better concentration techniques are needed for HPyV. Such epidemiological studies can be used to develop new recreational water quality criteria, which will provide direct information on the absence or presence of sewage contamination in water samples as well as reliable measurements of the risk of waterborne disease transmission to swimmers.
Project description:Understanding the decomposition of microorganisms associated with different human fecal pollution types is necessary for proper implementation of many water quality management practices, as well as predicting associated public health risks. Here, the decomposition of select cultivated and molecular indicators of fecal pollution originating from fresh human feces, septage, and primary effluent sewage in a subtropical marine environment was assessed over a six day period with an emphasis on the influence of ambient sunlight and indigenous microbiota. Ambient water mixed with each fecal pollution type was placed in dialysis bags and incubated in situ in a submersible aquatic mesocosm. Genetic and cultivated fecal indicators including fecal indicator bacteria (enterococci, E. coli, and Bacteroidales), coliphage (somatic and F+), Bacteroides fragilis phage (GB-124), and human-associated genetic indicators (HF183/BacR287 and HumM2) were measured in each sample. Simple linear regression assessing treatment trends in each pollution type over time showed significant decay (p ? 0.05) in most treatments for feces and sewage (27/28 and 32/40, respectively), compared to septage (6/26). A two-way analysis of variance of log10 reduction values for sewage and feces experiments indicated that treatments differentially impact survival of cultivated bacteria, cultivated phage, and genetic indicators. Findings suggest that sunlight is critical for phage decay, and indigenous microbiota play a lesser role. For bacterial cultivated and genetic indicators, the influence of indigenous microbiota varied by pollution type. This study offers new insights on the decomposition of common human fecal pollution types in a subtropical marine environment with important implications for water quality management applications.
Project description:Fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) are typically used to monitor microbial water quality but are poor representatives of viruses due to different environmental fate. Viral fecal indicators have been proposed as alternatives to FIB; however, data evaluating the persistence of emerging viral fecal indicators under realistic environmental conditions is necessary to evaluate their potential application. In this study, we examined the persistence of five viral fecal indicators, including crAssphage and pepper mild mottle virus (PMMoV), and three bacterial fecal indicators (E. coli, enterococci and HF183/BacR287) in large-scale experimental ponds and freshwater mesocosms. Observed inactivation rate constants were highly variable and ranged from a minimum of ?0.09 d?1 for PMMoV to a maximum of ?3.5 d?1 for HF183/BacR287 in uncovered mesocosms. Overall, viral fecal indicators had slower inactivation than bacterial fecal indicators and PMMoV was inactivated more slowly than all other targets. These results demonstrate that bacterial fecal indicators inadequately represent viral fate following aging of sewage contaminated water due to differential persistence, and that currently used fecal indicator monitoring targets demonstrate highly variable persistence that should be considered during water quality monitoring and risk assessment. Highlights • Viral indicator decay was slower than bacterial indicator decay.• PMMoV had extended persistence compared to all other indicators.• Fecal indicators, except PMMoV, had faster decay in the presence of sunlight.• Relative inactivation will help develop each indicator for water quality monitoring.
Project description:Fecal pollution of surface waters presents a global human health threat. New molecular indicators of fecal pollution have been developed to address shortcomings of traditional culturable fecal indicators. However, there is still little information on their fate and transport in the environment. The present study uses spatially and temporally extensive data on traditional (culturable enterococci, cENT) and molecular (qPCR-enterococci, qENT and human-associated marker, HF183/BacR287) indicator concentrations in marine water surrounding highly-urbanized San Francisco, California, USA to investigate environmental and anthropogenic processes that impact fecal pollution. We constructed multivariable regression models for fecal indicator bacteria at 14 sampling stations. The human marker was detected more frequently in our study than in many other published studies, with detection frequency at some stations as high as 97%. The odds of cENT, qENT, and HF183/BacR287 exceeding health-relevant thresholds were statistically elevated immediately following discharges of partially treated combined sewage, and cENT levels dissipated after approximately 1 day. However, combined sewer discharges were not important predictors of indicator levels typically measured in weekly monitoring samples. Instead, precipitation and solar insolation were important predictors of cENT in weekly samples, while precipitation and water temperature were important predictors of HF183/BacR287 and qENT. The importance of precipitation highlights the significance of untreated storm water as a source of fecal pollution to the urban ocean, even for a city served by a combined sewage system. Sunlight and water temperature likely control persistence of the indicators via photoinactivation and dark decay processes, respectively.
Project description:Water quality was assessed at two marine beaches in California by measuring the concentrations of culturable fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) and by library-independent microbial source tracking (MST) methods targeting markers of human-associated microbes (human polyomavirus [HPyV] PCR and quantitative PCR, Methanobrevibacter smithii PCR, and Bacteroides sp. strain HF183 PCR) and a human pathogen (adenovirus by nested PCR). FIB levels periodically exceeded regulatory thresholds at Doheny and Avalon Beaches for enterococci (28.5% and 31.7% of samples, respectively) and fecal coliforms (20% and 5.8%, respectively). Adenoviruses were detected at four of five sites at Doheny Beach and were correlated with detection of HPyVs and human Bacteroides HF183; however, adenoviruses were not detected at Avalon Beach. The most frequently detected human source marker at both beaches was Bacteroides HF183, which was detected in 27% of samples. Correlations between FIBs and human markers were much more frequent at Doheny Beach than at Avalon Beach; e.g., adenovirus was correlated with HPyVs and HF183. Human sewage markers and adenoviruses were routinely detected in samples meeting FIB regulatory standards. The toolbox approach of FIB measurement coupled with analysis of several MST markers targeting human pathogens used here demonstrated that human sewage is at least partly responsible for the degradation of water quality, particularly at Doheny Beach, and resulted in a more definitive assessment of recreational water quality and human health risk than reliance on FIB concentrations alone could have provided.
Project description:Alternative indicators have been developed that can be used to identify host sources of fecal pollution, yet little is known about how their distribution and fate compare to traditional indicators. Escherichia coli and enterococci were widely distributed at the six beaches studied and were detected in almost 95% of water samples (n = 422) and 100% of sand samples (n = 400). Berm sand contained the largest amount of E. coli (P < 0.01), whereas levels of enterococci were highest in the backshore (P < 0.01). E. coli and enterococci were the lowest in water, using a weight-to-volume comparison. The gull-associated Catellicoccus marimammalium (Gull2) marker was found in over 80% of water samples, regardless of E. coli levels, and in 25% of sand samples. Human-associated Bacteroides (HB) and Lachnospiraceae (Lachno2) were detected in only 2.4% of water samples collected under baseflow and post-rain conditions but produced a robust signal after a combined sewage overflow, despite low E. coli concentrations. Burdens of E. coli and enterococci in water and sand were disproportionately high in relation to alternative indicators when comparing environmental samples to source material. In microcosm studies, Gull2, HB, and Lachno2 quantitative PCR (qPCR) signals were reduced twice as quickly as those from E. coli and enterococci and approximately 20% faster than signals from culturable E. coli High concentrations of alternative indicators in source material illustrated their high sensitivity for the identification of fecal sources; however, differential survival and the potential for long-term persistence of traditional fecal indicators complicate the use of alternative indicator data to account for the levels of E. coli and enterococci in environmental samples.E. coli and enterococci are general indicators of fecal pollution and may persist in beach sand, making their use problematic for many applications. This study demonstrates that gull fecal pollution is widespread at Great Lakes beaches, whereas human and ruminant contamination is evident only after major rain events. An exploration of sand as a reservoir for indicators found that E. coli was ubiquitous, while gull host markers were detected in only 25% of samples. In situ sand beach microcosms provided decay rate constants for E. coli and enterococci relative to alternative indicators, which establish comparative benchmarks that would be helpful to distinguish recent from past pollution. Overall, alternative indicators are useful for identifying sources and assessing potentially high health risk contamination events; however, beach managers should be cautious in attempting to directly link their detection to the levels of E. coli or enterococci.
Project description:Regulatory agencies mandate the use of fecal coliforms, Escherichia coli or Enterococcus spp., as microbial indicators of recreational water quality. These indicators of fecal pollution do not identify the specific sources of pollution and at times underestimate health risks associated with recreational water use. This study proposes the use of human polyomaviruses (HPyVs), which are widespread among human populations, as indicators of human fecal pollution. A method was developed to concentrate and extract HPyV DNA from environmental water samples and then to amplify it by nested PCR. HPyVs were detected in as little as 1 microl of sewage and were not amplified from dairy cow or pig wastes. Environmental water samples were screened for the presence of HPyVs and two additional markers of human fecal pollution: the Enterococcus faecium esp gene and the 16S rRNA gene of human-associated Bacteroides. The presence of human-specific indicators of fecal pollution was compared to fecal coliform and Enterococcus concentrations. HPyVs were detected in 19 of 20 (95%) samples containing the E. faecium esp gene and Bacteroides human markers. Weak or no correlation was observed between the presence/absence of human-associated indicators and counts of indicator bacteria. The sensitivity, specificity, and correlation with other human-associated markers suggest that the HPyV assay could be a useful predictor of human fecal pollution in environmental waters and an important component of the microbial-source-tracking "toolbox."
Project description:In the United States, total maximum daily load standards for bodies of water that do not meet bacterial water quality standards are set by each state. The presence of human polyomaviruses (HPyVs) can be used as an indicator of human-associated sewage pollution in these waters. We have developed and optimized a TaqMan quantitative PCR (QPCR) assay based on the conserved T antigen to both quantify and simultaneously detect two HPyVs; JC virus and BK virus. The QPCR assay was able to consistently quantify > or =10 gene copies per reaction and is linear over 5 orders of magnitude. HPyVs were consistently detected in human waste samples (57 of 64) and environmental waters with known human fecal contamination (5 of 5) and were not amplified in DNA extracted from 127 animal waste samples from 14 species. HPyV concentrations in sewage decreased 81.2 and 84.2% over 28 days incubation at 25 and 35 degrees C, respectively. HPyVs results were compared to Escherichia coli, fecal coliform, and enterococci concentrations and the presence of three other human-associated microbes: Bacteroidetes, Methanobrevibacter smithii, and adenovirus. HPyVs were the most frequently detected of these in human and contaminated environmental samples and were more human specific than the Bacteroidetes (HF183) or M. smithii. HPyVs and M. smithii more closely mimicked the persistence of adenovirus in sewage than the other microbes. The use of this rapid and quantitative assay in water quality research could help regulatory agencies to identify sources of water pollution for improved remediation of contaminated waters and ultimately protect humans from exposure to pathogens.
Project description:Fecal microorganisms can enter water bodies in diverse ways, including runoff, sewage discharge, and direct fecal deposition. Once in water, the microorganisms experience conditions that are very different from intestinal habitats. The transition from host to aquatic environment may lead to rapid inactivation, some degree of persistence, or growth. Microorganisms may remain planktonic, be deposited in sediment, wash up on beaches, or attach to aquatic vegetation. Each of these habitats offers a panoply of different stressors or advantages, including UV light exposure, temperature fluctuations, salinity, nutrient availability, and biotic interactions with the indigenous microbiota (e.g., predation and/or competition). The host sources of fecal microorganisms are likewise numerous, including wildlife, pets, livestock, and humans. Most of these microorganisms are unlikely to affect human health, but certain taxa can cause waterborne disease. Others signal increased probability of pathogen presence, e.g., the fecal indicator bacteria Escherichia coli and enterococci and bacteriophages, or act as fecal source identifiers (microbial source tracking markers). The effects of environmental factors on decay are frequently inconsistent across microbial species, fecal sources, and measurement strategies (e.g., culture versus molecular). Therefore, broad generalizations about the fate of fecal microorganisms in aquatic environments are problematic, compromising efforts to predict microbial decay and health risk from contamination events. This review summarizes the recent literature on decay of fecal microorganisms in aquatic environments, recognizes defensible generalizations, and identifies knowledge gaps that may provide particularly fruitful avenues for obtaining a better understanding of the fates of these organisms in aquatic environments.
Project description:This report documents the presence of fecal indicators and bacterial pathogens in sand at 53 California marine beaches using both culture-dependent and -independent (PCR and quantitative PCR [QPCR]) methods. Fecal indicator bacteria were widespread in California beach sand, with Escherichia coli and enterococci detected at 68% and 94% of the beaches surveyed, respectively. Somatic coliphages and a Bacteroidales human-specific fecal marker were detected at 43% and 13% of the beaches, respectively. Dry sand samples from almost 30% of the beaches contained at least one of the following pathogens: Salmonella spp., Campylobacter spp., Staphylococcus aureus, and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which were detected at 15%, 13%, 14%, and 3% of tested beaches, respectively. Fecal indicators and pathogens were poorly correlated to one another and to land cover. Sands were dry at the time of collection, and those with relatively high moisture tended to have higher concentrations or a more frequent occurrence of both indicators and pathogens. Using culture-dependent assays, fecal indicators decayed faster than pathogens in microcosm experiments using unaltered beach sand seeded with sewage and assessed by culture-dependent assays. The following order of persistence was observed (listed from most to least persistent): Campylobacter > Salmonella > somatic coliphages > enterococci > E. coli > F(+) phages. In contrast, pathogens decayed faster than fecal indicators in culture-independent assays: enterococci > Bacteroidales human-specific marker > Salmonella > Campylobacter. Microcosm experiments demonstrated that both indicators and pathogens were mobilized by wetting with seawater. Decay rates measured by QPCR were lower than those measured with culture-dependent methods. Enterococcal persistence and possible growth were observed for wetted microcosms relative to unwetted controls.
Project description:Billions of gallons of untreated wastewater enter the coastal ocean each year. Once sewage microorganisms are in the marine environment, they are exposed to environmental stressors, such as sunlight and predation. Previous research has investigated the fate of individual sewage microorganisms in seawater but not the entire sewage microbial community. The present study used next-generation sequencing (NGS) to examine how the microbial community in sewage-impacted seawater changes over 48 h when exposed to natural sunlight cycles and marine microbiota. We compared the results from microcosms composed of unfiltered seawater (containing naturally occurring marine microbiota) and filtered seawater (containing no marine microbiota) to investigate the effect of marine microbiota. We also compared the results from microcosms that were exposed to natural sunlight cycles with those from microcosms kept in the dark to investigate the effect of sunlight. The microbial community composition and the relative abundance of operational taxonomic units (OTUs) changed over 48 h in all microcosms. Exposure to sunlight had a significant effect on both community composition and OTU abundance. The effect of marine microbiota, however, was minimal. The proportion of sewage-derived microorganisms present in the microcosms decreased rapidly within 48 h, and the decrease was the most pronounced in the presence of both sunlight and marine microbiota, where the proportion decreased from 85% to 3% of the total microbial community. The results from this study demonstrate the strong effect that sunlight has on microbial community composition, as measured by NGS, and the importance of considering temporal effects in future applications of NGS to identify microbial pollution sources.