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Water Res. 2010 Sep;44(17):5050-8. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2010.07.027. Epub 2010 Jul 21.

Bacteria from drinking water supply and their fate in gastrointestinal tracts of germ-free mice: a phylogenetic comparison study.

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College of Public Health, Division of Environmental Health Sciences, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.


Microorganisms in drinking water sources may colonize in gastrointestinal (GI) tracts and this phenomenon may pose a potential health risk especially to immunocompromised population. The microbial community diversity of the drinking water was compared with the GI tracts of the mice using phylogenetic and statistical analyses of 16S rRNA gene sequences. A group of germ-free mice were fed with drinking water from public water supply that passed through an automated watering system with documented biofilm accumulation. From drinking water and GI tracts of the germ-free mice, 179 bacteria were isolated and 75 unique 16S rRNA gene phylotypes were sequenced as operational taxonomic unit (OTU, >97% similarity). Three major groups of the genus Acidovorax (21%), Variovorax (42%) and Sphingopyxis (15%) were found in drinking water. Three major groups of the genus Ralstonia (24%), Staphylococcus (20%) and Bosea (22%) were found in GI tracts. Ralstonia (6%, 24%), Sphingopyxis (15%, 2%), Bacillus (3%, 5%), Escherichia coli (3%, 2%) and Mesorhizobium (3%, 5%) were found in both sources - drinking water and GI tract. A lineage-per-time plot shows that the both bacterial communities have convex shape lines, suggesting an excess of closely related ecotypes. A significant F(ST) test (0.00000-0.00901) coupled with an insignificant P test (0.07-0.46) implies that the tree contained several clades of closely related bacteria. Both phylogenetic and statistical results suggest a correlation between the bacterial communities originating in the drinking water and those associated with the GI tracts. The GI tract showed a higher genetic diversity than the drinking water, but a similar lineage-per-time plot was obtained overall. It means a sudden evolutionary transformation and colonization occurred with high selective forces.

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