Decay of sewage-associated bacterial communities in fresh and marine environmental waters and sediment
Understanding the microbial quality of recreational waters is critical to effectively managing human health risks. In recent years, the development of new molecular methods has provided scientists with alternatives to the use of culture-based fecal indicator methods for investigating sewage contamination in recreational waters. Before these methods can be formalized into guidelines, however, we must investigate their utility, including strengths and weaknesses in different environmental media. In this study, we investigated the decay of sewage-associated bacterial communities in water and sediment from three recreational areas in Southeast Queensland, Australia. Outdoor mesocosms with water and sediment samples from two marine and one freshwater sites were inoculated with untreated sewage and sampled on days 0, 1, 4, 8, 14, 28, and 50. Amplicon sequencing was performed on the DNA extracted from water and sediment samples, and SourceTracker was used to determine the decay of sewage-associated bacterial communities and how they change following a contamination event. No sewage-associated operational taxonomic units (OTUs) were detected in water and sediment samples after day 4; however, the bacterial communities remained changed from their background measures, prior to sewage amendment. Following untreated sewage inoculation, the mesocosm that had the most diverse starting bacterial community recovered to about 60% of its initial community composition, whereas the least diverse bacterial community only recovered to about 30% of its initial community composition. This suggests that a more diverse bacterial community may play an important role in water quality outcomes after sewage contamination events. Further investigation into potential links between bacterial communities and measures of fecal indicators, pathogens, and microbial source tracking (MST) markers is warranted and may provide insight for recreational water decision-makers.
KeywordsAmplicon DNA sequencing Decay Mesocosms Sewage contamination SourceTracker
Our thanks to CSIRO Land and Water for funding this strategic project. Sequence processing and analyses were done using the resources of the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.
- Bae S, Wuertz S (2012) Survival of host-associated Bacteroides cells and their relationship with Enterococcus spp., Campylobacter jejuni, Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium, and adenovirus in freshwater microcosms as measured by propidium monoazide-quantitative PCR. Appl Environ Microbiol 78:922–932CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Beale DJ, Crosswell J, Karpe AV, Ahmed W, Williams M, Morrison PD, Metcalfe S, Staley C, Sadowsky MJ, Palombo EA, Steven A (2017) A multi-omics based ecological analysis of coastal marine sediments from Gladstone, in Australia’s Far North Queensland, and Heron Island, a nearby fringing platform reef. Sci Total Environ 609:842–853CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Bradshaw JK, Snyder BJ, Oladeinde A, Spidle D, Berrang ME, Meinersmann RJ, Oakley B, Sidle RC, Sullivan K, Molina M (2016) Charectrizing relationships among fecal indicator bacteria, microbial source tracking markers, and associated waterborne pathogen occurrence in stream water and sediments in a mixed land use watershed. Water Res 101:498–509CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Claesson MJ, Wang QO, O’Sullivan O, Greene-Diniz R, Cole JR, Ross RP, O’Toole PW (2010) Comparison of two next-generation sequencing technologies for resolving highly complex microbiota composition using tandem variable 16S rRNA gene regions. Nucleic Acids Res 38:e200CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Edgar RC, Haas BJ, Clemente JC, Quince C, Knight R (2011) UCHIME improves sensitivity and speed of chimera detection. Bioinformatics 27:2194–2200Google Scholar
- Gihring TM, Green SJ, Schadt CW (2012) Massively parallel rRNA gene sequencing exacerbates the potential for biased community diversity comparisons due to variable library sizes. Environ Microbiol 14:285–290Google Scholar
- Murphu HM, Thomas MK, Schmidt PJ, Medeiros DT, McFadyen S, Pintar KD (2016) Estimating the burden of acute gastrointestinal illness due to Giardia, Cryptosporidium, Campylobacter, E. coli O157 and norovirus associated with private wells and small water systems in Canada. Epidemiol Infect 144:1355–1370CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Schloss PD, Westcott SL, Ryabin T, Hall JR, Hartmann M, Hollister EB, Lesniewski RA, Oakley BB, Parks DH, Robinson CJ, Sahl JW, Stres B, Thallinger GG, Van Horn DJ, Weber CF (2009) Introducing mothur: open-source, platform-independent, community-supported software for describing and comparing microbial communities. Appl Environ Microbiol 75:7537–7541CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Sogin ML, Morrison HG, Huber JA, Mark Welch D, Huse SM, Neal PR, Arrieta JM, Herndl GJ (2006) Microbial diversity in the deep sea and the underexplored “rare biosphere”. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 103:12115–20Google Scholar
- Staley ZR, Grabuski J, Sverko E, Edge TA (2016) Comparison of microbial and chemical source tracking markers to identify fecal contamination sources in the Humber River (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) and associated storm water outfalls. Appl Environ Microbiol 82:6357–6366CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- US Environmental Protection Agency (2012) Recreational Water Quality Criteria. Health and Ecological Criteria Division, Office of Science and Technology, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.CGoogle Scholar
- Wolf L, Held I, Eiswirth M, Hotzl H (2004) Impact of leaky sewers on groundwater quality. Clean Soil Air Water 32:361–373Google Scholar
- World Health Organization (2003) Guidelines for safe recreational water environments. World Health Organization, GenevaGoogle Scholar
- Yatsunenko T, Rey FE, Manary MJ, Trehan I, Dominguez-Bello MG, Contreras M, Magris M, Hidalgo G, Baldassano RN, Anokhin AP, Heath AC, Warner B, Reeder J, Kuczynski J, Caporaso JG, Lozupone CA, Lauber C, Clemente JC, Knights D, Knight R, Gordon JI (2012) Human gut microbiome viewed across age and geography. Nature 486:222−227CrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar