Applied Biological Chemistry

, Volume 60, Issue 6, pp 667–672 | Cite as

Investigation of microbial communities in water dispensers

  • Sangjung Park
  • Adeel Farooq
  • Hyejun Jo
  • Jihye Kim
  • Mihee Yang
  • Youngho Ko
  • Sungmo Kang
  • Hyenmi ChungEmail author
  • Tatsuya UnnoEmail author


Water dispensers remove disinfectant residues from tap water and thus are commonly present in Korean households; however, microbial contamination in water dispensers has recently become a major issue. To understand the occurrence of microbial contamination in water dispensers, we investigated microbial contamination in different dispenser types through heterotrophic plate count (HPC) and MiSeq-based microbial community analyses. Two newly purchased water dispensers were placed in a basement room and left for approximately 2 months; the HPC analysis indicated microbial contamination in the drinking water collected from these dispensers (160,000 and 48,000 CFU/mL, respectively). Taxonomic classification indicated that the basement dispensers were likely contaminated by freshwater bacteria, such as Acidovorax and Methylotenera. However, two dispensers located at the half landing and the first floor showed lower microbial contamination (110 and 78 CFU/mL, respectively). Furthermore, frequently used dispenser on the first floor showed higher HPCs on the faucet surface, which were classified as general oral bacteria like Hyphobacterium. We also observed that a deserted dispenser (6-year-old with no maintenance) placed on the half landing showed the least HPCs, although it seemed to have lost its filtration ability. Our results suggested that removal of disinfectant residues leads to an increase in the freshwater bacterial population in water tanks within dispensers, which could be avoided by frequent water circulation.


Disinfectant residue Heterotrophic plate count Microbial community analysis Water dispenser 



This study was conducted as a project of National Institute of Environmental Research funded by the Korean government (1900-1946-303-210).

Supplementary material

13765_2017_325_MOESM1_ESM.docx (86 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 85 kb)


  1. 1.
    Kim SC, Oh SJ, Oh SM, Lee SP, Yang JE (2017) In situ reclamation of closed coal mine waste in Korea using coal ash. Appl Biol Chem 60:265–272CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Jung J-W, Park H-N, Yoon K-S, Choi D-H, Lim B-J (2013) Event mean concentrations (EMCs) and first flush characteristics of runoff from a public park in Korea. J Korean Soc Appl Biol Chem 56:597–604CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Kumar RR, Park BJ, Cho JY (2013) Application and environmental risks of livestock manure. J Korean Soc Appl Biol Chem 56:497–503CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Rahman M, Kim T-H, Kwon G-S, Yang JE, Park M, Kim J-E (2009) Removal efficiency of the herbicide oxadiazon in treatment processes for drinking water. J Korean Soc Appl Biol Chem 52:252–257CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Kumari M, Gupta SK, Mishra BK (2015) Multi-exposure cancer and non-cancer risk assessment of trihalomethanes in drinking water supplies—a case study of Eastern region of India. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 113:433–438CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Farhadkhani M, Nikaeen M, Akbari Adergani B, Hatamzadeh M, Nabavi BF, Hassanzadeh A (2014) Assessment of drinking water quality from bottled water coolers. Iran J Public Health 43:674–681Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Wei SH, Chou P, Tseng LR, Lin HC, Wang JH, Sheu JN, Liu MT, Liu FC, Wu HH, Lin MC, Ko CF, Lin HY, Kao PH, Hwang KP, Hsu YL, Kuo TL, Chiang CS (2014) Nosocomial neonatal legionellosis associated with water in infant formula, Taiwan. Emerg Infect Dis 20:1921–1924CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Haller S, Holler C, Jacobshagen A, Hamouda O, Abu Sin M, Monnet DL, Plachouras D, Eckmanns T (2016) Contamination during production of heater-cooler units by Mycobacterium chimaera potential cause for invasive cardiovascular infections: results of an outbreak investigation in Germany, April 2015 to February 2016. Euro Surveill 21Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    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 75:7537–7541CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Quast C, Pruesse E, Yilmaz P, Gerken J, Schweer T, Yarza P, Peplies J, Glockner FO (2013) The SILVA ribosomal RNA gene database project: improved data processing and web-based tools. Nucleic Acids Res 41:D590–D596CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Edgar RC, Haas BJ, Clemente JC, Quince C, Knight R (2011) UCHIME improves sensitivity and speed of chimera detection. Bioinformatics 27:2194–2200CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    McDonald D, Price MN, Goodrich J, Nawrocki EP, DeSantis TZ, Probst A, Andersen GL, Knight R, Hugenholtz P (2012) An improved Greengenes taxonomy with explicit ranks for ecological and evolutionary analyses of bacteria and archaea. ISME J 6:610–618CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Segata N, Izard J, Waldron L, Gevers D, Miropolsky L, Garrett WS, Huttenhower C (2011) Metagenomic biomarker discovery and explanation. Genome Biol 12:R60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Furuhata K, Ishizaki N, Fukuyama M (2015) Bacterial contamination in cold water samples obtained from water dispensers. Biocontrol Sci 20:147–151CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Heijstra BD, Pichler FB, Liang Q, Blaza RG, Turner SJ (2009) Extracellular DNA and type IV pili mediate surface attachment by Acidovorax temperans. Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek 95:343–349CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Jia S, Shi P, Hu Q, Li B, Zhang T, Zhang XX (2015) Bacterial community shift drives antibiotic resistance promotion during drinking water chlorination. Environ Sci Technol 49:12271–12279CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Sacchetti R, De Luca G, Dormi A, Guberti E, Zanetti F (2014) Microbial quality of drinking water from microfiltered water dispensers. Int J Hyg Environ Health 217:255–259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Wade WG (2013) The oral microbiome in health and disease. Pharmacol Res 69:137–143CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Korean Society for Applied Biological Chemistry 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Water Microbiology DivisionNational Institute of Environmental ResearchIncheonRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.Faculty of Biotechnology, College of Applied Life Science, SARIJeju National UniversityJejuRepublic of Korea
  3. 3.Korea Environment and Water Works InstituteYoungdeongpo-gu, SeoulRepublic of Korea

Personalised recommendations