Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 20, Issue 9, pp 6351–6366 | Cite as

Eukaryotic diversity in premise drinking water using 18S rDNA sequencing: implications for health risks

  • Helen Y. BuseEmail author
  • Jingrang Lu
  • Ian T. Struewing
  • Nicholas J. Ashbolt
Research Article


The goal of this study was to characterize microbial eukaryotes over a 12-month period to provide insight into the occurrence of potential bacterial predators and hosts in premise plumbing. Nearly 6,300 partial 18S rRNA gene sequences from 24 hot (36.9–39.0 °C) and cold (6.8–29.1 °C) drinking water samples were analyzed and classified into major eukaryotic groups. Each major group, consisting of free-living amoebae (FLA)/protozoa, algae, copepods, dinoflagellates, fungi, nematodes, and unique uncultured eukaryotic sequences, showed limited diversity dominated by a few distinct populations, which may be characteristic of oligotrophic environments. Changes in the relative abundance of predators such as nematodes, copepods, and FLA appear to be related to temperature and seasonal changes in water quality. Sequences nearly identical to FLA such as Hartmannella vermiformis, Echinamoeba thermarmum, Pseudoparamoeba pagei, Protacanthamoeba bohemica, Platyamoeba sp., and Vannella sp. were obtained. In addition to FLA, various copepods, rotifers, and nematodes have been reported to internalize viral and bacterial pathogens within drinking water systems thus potentially serving as transport hosts; implications of which are discussed further. Increasing the knowledge of eukaryotic occurrence and their relationship with potential pathogens should aid in assessing microbial risk associated with various eukaryotic organisms in drinking water.


Free-living amoebae Bacterial hosts Hot and cold tap water 



We would like to thank Drs. Jorge Santo Domingo and Jay Garland at the US EPA Office of Research and Development for their critical review and constructive comments on this manuscript.

Supplementary material

11356_2013_1646_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (19 kb)
Supplemental Table 1 Number of hot and cold water sequences pre- and post-processing (PDF 18.7 kb)
11356_2013_1646_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (11 kb)
Supplemental Table 2 Further analysis of the uncultured eukaryote group of 18S rRNA gene sequences using the SINA web tool (PDF 10 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg (outside the USA) 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helen Y. Buse
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jingrang Lu
    • 2
  • Ian T. Struewing
    • 1
  • Nicholas J. Ashbolt
    • 2
  1. 1.Dynamac c/o US Environmental Protection AgencyCincinnatiUSA
  2. 2.National Exposure Research Laboratory, Office of Research and Development, US Environmental Protection AgencyCincinnatiUSA

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