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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2008 Sep;74(17):5490-6. doi: 10.1128/AEM.00331-08. Epub 2008 Jul 11.

Real-time PCR detection of pathogenic microorganisms in roof-harvested rainwater in Southeast Queensland, Australia.

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  • 1Department of Natural Resources and Water, 80 Meiers Road, Indooroopilly, Brisbane 4068, Australia.


In this study, the microbiological quality of roof-harvested rainwater was assessed by monitoring the concentrations of Escherichia coli, enterococci, Clostridium perfringens, and Bacteroides spp. in rainwater obtained from tanks in Southeast Queensland, Australia. Samples were also tested using real-time PCR (with SYBR Green I dye) for the presence of potential pathogenic microorganisms. Of the 27 rainwater samples tested, 17 (63%), 21 (78%), 13 (48%), and 24 (89%) were positive for E. coli, enterococci, C. perfringens, and Bacteroides spp., respectively. Of the 27 samples, 11 (41%), 7 (26%), 4 (15%), 3 (11%), and 1 (4%) were PCR positive for the Campylobacter coli ceuE gene, the Legionella pneumophila mip gene, the Aeromonas hydrophila lip gene, the Salmonella invA gene, and the Campylobacter jejuni mapA gene. Of the 21 samples tested, 4 (19%) were positive for the Giardia lamblia beta-giardin gene. The binary logistic regression model indicated a positive correlation (P < 0.02) between the presence/absence of enterococci and A. hydrophila. In contrast, the presence/absence of the remaining potential pathogens did not correlate with traditional fecal indicators. The poor correlation between fecal indicators and potential pathogens suggested that fecal indicators may not be adequate to assess the microbiological quality of rainwater and consequent health risk.

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