Using flow cytometry and Bacteroidales 16S rRNA markers to study the hygienic quality of source water

  • Andreas BaumgartnerEmail author
  • David Diston
  • Isabel Niederhauser
  • Richard FelleisenEmail author
Announcements and Reports


Six source water fountains in the community of Berne, Switzerland were sampled monthly over the period of 1 year. The samples were tested for total counts by flow cytometry, and for fecal contamination by using the Bacteroidales 16S rRNA markers HF183, BacR and AllBac. The total counts varied considerably between the different fountains with a minimal value of 5115 counts/L and with a maximal count of 198,508 counts/L. The long-term patterns of total counts over 1 year were typical for each fountain. Comparison of rainfall data and data for the non-specific fecal marker AllBac was shown to be a suitable approach to highlight the vulnerability of sources to environmental influences. HF183, indicating contamination of human origin, occurred only sporadically and in insignificant amounts. Furthermore, as indicated by BacR, the studied fountains showed no evidence of contamination by ruminant feces. Further work is suggested in order to establish threshold values for molecular Bacteroidales markers, which could in future replace the currently used criteria for fecal indicator bacteria.


Flow cytometry Bacteroidales markers Drinking water Contamination Source tracking 



We kindly acknowledge Michael Binggeli, Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office for providing us electronic versions of geographic maps.


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Copyright information

© Bundesamt für Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittelsicherheit (BVL) 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office FSVOBerneSwitzerland

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