Assessment of Fecal Indicator Bacteria and Potential Pathogen Co-Occurrence at a Shellfish Growing Area
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Assessment of Fecal Indicator Bacteria and Potential Pathogen Co-Occurrence at a Shellfish Growing Area

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  • Journal Title:
    Frontiers in Microbiology
  • Description:
    Routine monitoring of shellfish growing waters for bacteria indicative of human sewage pollution reveals little about the bacterial communities that co-occur with these indicators. This study investigated the bacterial community, potential pathogens, and fecal indicator bacteria in 40 water samples from a shellfish growing area in the Chesapeake Bay, USA. Bacterial community composition was quantified with deep sequencing of 16S rRNA gene amplicons, and absolute gene abundances were estimated with an internal standard (Thermus thermophilus genomes). Fecal coliforms were quantified by culture, and Vibrio vulnificus and V parahaemolyticus with quantitative PCR. Fecal coliforms and V vulnificus were detected in most samples, and a diverse assemblage of potential human pathogens were detected in all samples. These taxa followed two general patterns of abundance. Fecal coliforms and 16S rRNA genes for Enterobacteriaceae, Aeromonas, Arcobacter, Staphylococcus, and Bacteroides increased in abundance after a 1.3-inch rain event in May, and, for some taxa, after smaller rain events later in the season, suggesting that these are allochthonous organisms washed in from land. Clostridiaceae and Mycobacterium 16S rRNA gene abundances increased with day of the year and were not positively related to rainfall, suggesting that these are autochthonous organisms. Other groups followed both patterns, such as Legionella. Fecal coliform abundance did not correlate with most other taxa, but were extremely high following the large rainstorm in May when they co-occurred with a broad range of potential pathogen groups. V vulnificus were absent during the large rainstorm, and did not correlate with 16S rRNA abundances of Vibrio spp. or most other taxa. These results highlight the complex nature of bacterial communities and the limited utility of using specific bacterial groups as indicators of pathogen presence.
  • Source:
    Frontiers in Microbiology, 9, 13.
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    CC BY
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