Project description:The human microbiome contains many organisms that could potentially be used as indicators of human fecal pollution. Here we report the development of two novel human-associated genetic marker assays that target organisms within the family Lachnospiraceae Next-generation sequencing of the V6 region of the 16S rRNA gene from sewage and animal stool samples identified 40 human-associated marker candidates with a robust signal in sewage and low or no occurrence in samples from nonhuman hosts. Two were chosen for quantitative PCR (qPCR) assay development using longer sequences (the V2 to V9 regions) generated from clone libraries. Validation of these assays with these markers, designated Lachno3 and Lachno12, was performed using fecal samples (n = 55) from cat, dog, pig, cow, deer, and gull sources, and the results were compared with those of established host-associated assays (the Lachno2 marker and two human Bacteroides markers, the HB and HF183/BacR287). Each of the established assays cross-reacted with samples from at least one other animal species, including animals common in urban areas. The Lachno3 and Lachno12 markers were primarily human associated; however, the Lachno12 marker demonstrated low levels of cross-reactivity with samples from select cows and nonspecific amplification with samples from pigs. This limitation may not be problematic when testing urban waters. These novel markers resolved ambiguous results from previous investigations of stormwater-impacted waters, demonstrating their utility. The complexity of the microbiome in humans and animals suggests that no single organism is strictly specific to humans, and the use of multiple complementary markers in combination will provide the highest resolution and specificity for assessing fecal pollution sources.IMPORTANCE Traditional fecal indicator bacteria do not distinguish animal from human fecal pollution, which is necessary to evaluate health risks and mitigate pollution sources. Assessing water in urban areas is challenging, since the water can be impacted by sewage, which has a high likelihood of carrying human pathogens, as well as pet and urban wildlife waste. We demonstrate that the Lachno3 and Lachno12 markers are human associated and highly specific for the detection of human fecal pollution from urban sources, offering reliable identification of fecal pollution sources in urban waters.
Project description:Urban coasts receive watershed drainage from ecosystems that include highly developed lands with sewer and stormwater infrastructure. In these complex ecosystems, coastal waters are often contaminated with fecal pollution, where multiple delivery mechanisms that often contain multiple fecal sources make it difficult to mitigate the pollution. Here, we exploit bacterial community sequencing of the V6 and V6V4 hypervariable regions of the bacterial 16S rRNA gene to identify bacterial distributions that signal the presence of sewer, fecal, and human fecal pollution. The sequences classified to three sewer infrastructure-associated bacterial genera, Acinetobacter, Arcobacter, and Trichococcus, and five fecal-associated bacterial families, Bacteroidaceae, Porphyromonadaceae, Clostridiaceae, Lachnospiraceae, and Ruminococcaceae, served as signatures of sewer and fecal contamination, respectively. The human fecal signature was determined with the Bayesian source estimation program SourceTracker, which we applied to a set of 40 sewage influent samples collected in Milwaukee, WI, USA to identify operational taxonomic units (? 97 % identity) that were most likely of human fecal origin. During periods of dry weather, the magnitudes of all three signatures were relatively low in Milwaukee's urban rivers and harbor and nearly zero in Lake Michigan. However, the relative contribution of the sewer and fecal signature frequently increased to > 2 % of the measured surface water communities following sewer overflows. Also during combined sewer overflows, the ratio of the human fecal pollution signature to the fecal pollution signature in surface waters was generally close to that of sewage, but this ratio decreased dramatically during dry weather and rain events, suggesting that nonhuman fecal pollution was the dominant source during these weather-driven scenarios. The qPCR detection of two human fecal indicators, human Bacteroides and Lachno2, confirmed the urban fecal footprint in this ecosystem extends to at least 8 km offshore.
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:This study evaluated the geospatial distribution of fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) (i.e., Escherichia coli, Enterococcus spp.) and the alternative fecal indicator pepper mild mottle virus (PMMoV) in tropical freshwater environments under different land use patterns. Results show that the occurrence and concentration of microbial fecal indicators were higher for urban than for parkland-dominated areas, consistent with land use weightage. Significant positive correlations with traditional FIB indicate that PMMoV is a suitable indicator of fecal contamination in tropical catchments waters (0.549 ? rho ? 0.612; P < 0.01). PMMoV exhibited a strong significant correlation with land use weightage (rho = 0.728; P < 0.01) compared to traditional FIB (rho = 0.583; P < 0.01). In addition, chemical tracers were also added to evaluate the potential relationships with microbial fecal indicators. The relationships between diverse variables (e.g., environmental parameters, land use coverage, and chemical tracers) and the occurrence of FIB and PMMoV were evaluated. By using stepwise multiple linear regression (MLR), the empirical experimental models substantiate the impact of land use patterns and anthropogenic activities on microbial water quality, and the output results of the empirical models may be able to predict the sources and transportation of human fecal pollution or sewage contamination. In addition, the high correlation between PMMoV data obtained from quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) and viral metagenomics data supports the possibility of using viral metagenomics to relatively quantify specific microbial indicators for monitoring microbial water quality (0.588 ? rho ? 0.879; P < 0.05).IMPORTANCE The results of this study may support the hypothesis of using PMMoV as an alternative indicator of human fecal contamination in tropical surface waters from the perspective of land use patterns. The predictive result of the occurrence of human fecal indicators with high accuracy may reflect the source and transportation of human fecal pollution, which are directly related to the risk to human health, and thereafter, steps can be taken to mitigate these risks.
Project description:The complexity of fecal microbial communities and overlap among human and other animal sources have made it difficult to identify source-specific fecal indicator bacteria. However, the advent of next-generation sequencing technologies now provides increased sequencing power to resolve microbial community composition within and among environments. These data can be mined for information on source-specific phylotypes and/or assemblages of phylotypes (i.e., microbial signatures). We report the development of a new genetic marker for human fecal contamination identified through microbial pyrotag sequence analysis of the V6 region of the 16S rRNA gene. Sequence analysis of 37 sewage samples and comparison with database sequences revealed a human-associated phylotype within the Lachnospiraceae family, which was closely related to the genus Blautia. This phylotype, termed Lachno2, was on average the second most abundant fecal bacterial phylotype in sewage influent samples from Milwaukee, WI. We developed a quantitative PCR (qPCR) assay for Lachno2 and used it along with the qPCR-based assays for human Bacteroidales (based on the HF183 genetic marker), total Bacteroidales spp., and enterococci and the conventional Escherichia coli and enterococci plate count assays to examine the prevalence of fecal and human fecal pollution in Milwaukee's harbor. Both the conventional fecal indicators and the human-associated indicators revealed chronic fecal pollution in the harbor, with significant increases following heavy rain events and combined sewer overflows. The two human-associated genetic marker abundances were tightly correlated in the harbor, a strong indication they target the same source (i.e., human sewage). Human adenoviruses were routinely detected under all conditions in the harbor, and the probability of their occurrence increased by 154% for every 10-fold increase in the human indicator concentration. Both Lachno2 and human Bacteroidales increased specificity to detect sewage compared to general indicators, and the relationship to a human pathogen group suggests that the use of these alternative indicators will improve assessments for human health risks in urban waters.
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:Despite modern sewer system infrastructure, the release of sewage from deteriorating pipes and sewer overflows is a major water pollution problem in US cities, particularly in coastal watersheds that are highly developed with large human populations. We quantified fecal pollution sources and loads entering Lake Michigan from a large watershed of mixed land use using host-associated indicators. Wastewater treatment plant influent had stable concentrations of human Bacteroides and human Lachnospiraceae with geometric mean concentrations of 2.77 × 107 and 5.94 × 107 copy number (by quantitative PCR) per 100 ml, respectively. Human-associated indicator levels were four orders of magnitude higher than norovirus concentrations, suggesting that these human-associated bacteria could be sensitive indicators of pathogen risk. Norovirus concentrations in these same samples were used in calculations for quantitative microbial risk assessment. Assuming a typical recreational exposure to untreated sewage in water, concentrations of 7,800 copy number of human Bacteroides per 100 mL or 14,000 copy number of human Lachnospiraceae per 100 mL corresponded to an illness risk of 0.03. These levels were exceeded in estuarine waters during storm events with greater than 5 cm of rainfall. Following overflows from combined sewer systems (which must accommodate both sewage and stormwater), concentrations were 10-fold higher than under rainfall conditions. Automated high frequency sampling allowed for loads of human-associated markers to be determined, which could then be related back to equivalent volumes of untreated sewage that were released. Evidence of sewage contamination decreased as ruminant-associated indicators increased approximately one day post-storm, demonstrating the delayed impact of upstream agricultural sources on the estuary. These results demonstrate that urban areas are a diffuse source of sewage contamination to urban waters and that storm-driven release of sewage, particularly when sewage overflows occur, creates a serious though transient human health risk.
Project description:Fecal contamination from sewage and agricultural runoff is a pervasive problem in Great Lakes watersheds. Most work examining fecal pollution loads relies on discrete samples of fecal indicators and modeling land use. In this study, we made empirical measurements of human and ruminant-associated fecal indicator bacteria and combined these with hydrological measurements in eight watersheds ranging from predominantly forested to highly urbanized. Flow composited river samples were collected over low-flow ( n = 89) and rainfall or snowmelt runoff events ( n = 130). Approximately 90% of samples had evidence of human fecal pollution, with highest loads from urban watersheds. Ruminant indicators were found in ?60-100% of runoff-event samples in agricultural watersheds, with concentrations and loads related to cattle density. Rain depth, season, agricultural tile drainage, and human or cattle density explained variability in daily flux of human or ruminant indicators. Mapping host-associated indicator loads to watershed discharge points sheds light on the type, level, and possible health risk from fecal pollution entering the Great Lakes and can inform total maximum daily load implementation and other management practices to target specific fecal pollution sources.
Project description:Anthropogenic fecal pollution in urban waterbodies can promote the spread of waterborne disease. The objective of this study was to test crAssphage, a novel viral human fecal marker not previously applied for fecal source tracking in Latin America, as a fecal pollution marker in an urban river in Chile. Human fecal markers crAssphage CPQ_064 and Bacteroides HF183, the human pathogen norovirus GII, and culturable fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) were quantified at six locations spanning reaches of the Mapocho River from upstream to downstream of Santiago, as well as in repeated sub-daily frequency samples at two urban locations. Norovirus showed positive correlation trends with crAssphage (? = 0.57, p = 0.06) and HF183 (? = 0.64, p = 0.03) in river water, but not with E. coli or enterococci. CrAssphage and HF183 concentrations were strongly linearly related (slope = 0.97, p < 0.001). Chlorinated wastewater effluent was an important source of norovirus GII genes to the Mapocho. Precipitation showed non-significant positive relationships with human and general fecal indicators. Concentrations of crAssphage and HF183 in untreated sewage were 8.35 and 8.07 log10 copy/100 ml, respectively. Preliminary specificity testing did not detect crAssphage or HF183 in bird or dog feces, which are predominant non-human fecal sources in the urban Mapocho watershed. This study is the first to test crAssphage for microbial source tracking in Latin America, provides insight into fecal pollution dynamics in a highly engineered natural system, and indicates river reaches where exposure to human fecal pollution may pose a public health risk.