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Water Res. 2001 Feb;35(2):379-86.

Phenotypic and genotypic characterization of human and nonhuman Escherichia coli.

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Departments of Microbiology and Cell Science, P.O. Box. 110700, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-0700, USA.


Estuarine waters receive fecal pollution from a variety of sources, including humans and wildlife. Escherichia coli is one of several fecal coliform bacteria that inhabit the intestines of many warm-blooded animals that sometimes contaminate water. Its presence does not specifically implicate human fecal input, therefore it is necessary to differentiate contamination sources to accurately assess health risks. E. coli were isolated from human sources (HS) and nonhuman sources (NHS) in the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve and analyzed for fatty acid methyl ester (FAME), O-serogroup, and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) profiles. For FAME and PFGE analyses, there was no relationship between profile and isolate source. Human source PFGE profiles were less diverse than NHS isolates, and conversely for FAME. In contrast, O-serogrouping showed less diversity for HS vs. NHS isolates, and the predominant HS O-serogroups differed significantly (P < 0.01) from those of NHS isolates.

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