Consistency in the host specificity and host sensitivity of the Bacteroides HF183 marker for sewage pollution tracking

  • Ahmed W
  • Masters N
  • Toze S
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AIMS: The host specificity (H-SPF) and host sensitivity (H-SNV) values of the sewage-associated HF183 Bacteroides marker in the current study were compared with the previously published studies in South East Queensland (SEQ), Australia, by testing a large number of wastewater and faecal DNA samples (n=293) from 11 target and nontarget host groups. This was carried out to obtain information on the consistency in the H-SPF and H-SNV values of the HF183 marker for sewage pollution tracking in SEQ.

METHODS AND RESULTS: Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis was used to determine the presence/absence of the HF183 marker in wastewater and faecal DNA samples. Among the human composite wastewater (n=59) from sewage treatment plants and individual human (n=20) faecal DNA samples tested, 75 (95%) were PCR positive for the HF183 marker. The overall H-SNV of this marker in target host group was 0·95 (maximum of 1·00). Among the 214 nontarget animal faecal DNA samples tested, 201 (94%) samples were negative for the HF183 marker. Six chicken, five dog and two bird faecal DNA samples, however, were positive for the marker. The overall H-SPF of the HF183 marker to differentiate between target and nontarget faecal DNA samples was 0·94 (maximum of 1·00).

CONCLUSIONS: The H-SNV (0·95) and H-SPF (0·94) values obtained in this study was slightly lower than previous studies (H-SNV value of 1·00 in 2007 and 1·00 in 2009; H-SPF value of 1·00 in 2007 and 0·99 in 2009). Nonetheless, the overall high H-SNV (0·98) and H-SPF (0·97) values of the HF183 marker over the past 4 years (i.e. 2007-2011) suggest that the HF183 marker can be reliably used for the detection of sewage pollution in environmental waters in SEQ.

SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY: In the current study, the HF183 marker was detected in small number nontarget animal faecal samples. Care should be taken to interpret results obtained from catchments or waterways that might be potentially contaminated with dog faecal matter or poultry litter.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Faecal pollution
  • HF183 marker
  • Host specificity
  • Microbial source tracking
  • Polymerase chain reaction

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