Contribution of hydrological data to the understanding of the spatio-temporal dynamics of F-specific RNA bacteriophages in river water during rainfall-runoff events

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Abstract

Heavy rainfall events were previously reported to bring large amounts of microorganisms in surface water, including viruses. However, little information is available on the origin and transport of viral particles in water during such rain events. In this study, an integrative approach combining microbiological and hydrological measurements was investigated to appreciate the dynamics and origins of F-specific RNA bacteriophage fluxes during two distinct rainfall-runoff events. A high frequency sampling (automatic sampler) was set up to monitor the F-specific RNA bacteriophages fluxes at a fine temporal scale during the whole course of the rainfall-runoff events. A total of 276 rainfall-runoff samples were collected and analysed using both infectivity and RT-qPCR assays. The results highlight an increase of 2.5 log10 and 1.8 log10 of infectious F-specific RNA bacteriophage fluxes in parallel of an increase of the water flow levels for both events. Faecal pollution was characterised as being mainly from anthropic origin with a significant flux of phage particles belonging to the genogroup II. At the temporal scale, two successive distinct waves of phage pollution were established and identified through the hydrological measurements. The first arrival of phages in the water column was likely to be linked to the resuspension of riverbed sediments that was responsible for a high input of genogroup II. Surface runoff contributed further to the second input of phages, and more particularly of genogroup I. In addition, an important contribution of infectious phage particles has been highlighted. These findings imply the existence of a close relationship between the risk for human health and the viral contamination of flood water.

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Fauvel, B., Cauchie, H. M., Gantzer, C., & Ogorzaly, L. (2016). Contribution of hydrological data to the understanding of the spatio-temporal dynamics of F-specific RNA bacteriophages in river water during rainfall-runoff events. Water Research, 94, 328–340. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.watres.2016.02.057

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