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Water Res. 2010 Jul;44(14):4252-60. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2010.05.039. Epub 2010 Jun 9.

Pyrosequencing of the 16S rRNA gene to reveal bacterial pathogen diversity in biosolids.

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Department of Chemical Engineering, Environmental Engineering Program, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.


Given the potential for a variety of bacterial pathogens to occur in variably stabilized sewage sludge (biosolids), an understanding of pathogen diversity and abundance is necessary for accurate assessment of infective risk when these products are land applied. 16S rDNA was PCR amplified from genomic DNA extracted from municipal wastewater residuals (mesophilic- and thermophilic-phased anaerobic digestion (MAD and TPAD), composting (COM)), and agricultural soil (SOIL), and these amplicons were sequenced using massively parallel pyrosequencing technology. Resulting libraries contained an average of 30,893 16S rDNA sequences per sample with an average length of 392 bases. FASTUNIFRAC-based comparisons of population phylogenetic distance demonstrated similarities between the populations of different treatment plants performing the same stabilization method (e.g. different MAD samples), and population differences among samples from different biosolids stabilization methods (COM, MAD, and TPAD). Based on a 0.03 Jukes-Cantor distance to 80 potential bacterial pathogens, all samples contained pathogens and enrichment ranged from 0.02% to 0.1% of sequences. Most (61%) species identified were opportunistic pathogens of the genera Clostridium and Mycobacterium. As risk sciences continue to evolve to address scenarios that include multiple pathogen exposure, the analysis described here can be used to determine the diversity of pathogens in an environmental sample. This work provides guidance for prioritizing subsequent culturable and quantitative analysis, and for the first time, ensuring that potentially significant pathogens are not left out of risk estimations.

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