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Environ Monit Assess. 2003 Jun;85(1):87-98.

Antibiotic resistance analysis of fecal coliforms to determine fecal pollution sources in a mixed-use watershed.

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Department of Biology, Judson College, Marion, Perry, Alabama, USA.


Antibiotic resistance analysis was performed on fecal coliform (FC) bacteria from a mixed-use watershed to determine the source, human or nonhuman, of fecal coliform contamination. The study consisted of discriminant analysis of antibiotic resistance patterns generated by exposure to four concentrations of six antibiotics (ampicillin, gentamicin sulfate, kanamycin, spectinomycin dihydrochloride, streptomycin sulfate, and tetracycline hydrochloride). A reference database was constructed from 1125 fecal coliform isolates from the following sources: humans, domestic animals (cats and dogs), agricultural animals (chickens, cattle, and horses), and wild animals. Based on similar antibiotic resistance patterns, cat and dog isolates were grouped as domestic animals and horse and cattle isolates were grouped as livestock. The resulting average rate of correct classification (ARCC) for human and nonhuman isolates was 94%. A total of 800 FC isolates taken from the watershed during either a dry event or a wet event were classified according to source. Human sources contribute a majority (> 50%) of the baseflow FC isolates found in the watershed in urbanized areas. Chicken and livestock sources are responsible for the majority of the baseflow FC isolates found in the rural reaches of the watershed. Stormwater introduces FC isolates from domestic (approximately 16%) and wild (approximately 21%) sources throughout the watershed and varying amounts (up to 60%) from chicken and livestock sources. These results suggest that antibiotic resistance patterns of FC may be used to determine sources of fecal contamination and aid in the direction of water quality improvement.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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