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Can J Microbiol. 2013 Mar;59(3):210-20. doi: 10.1139/cjm-2012-0618. Epub 2013 Jan 11.

Identification of fecal contamination sources in water using host-associated markers.

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The University of British Columbia, Room G227, 2211 Wesbrook Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 2B5, Canada.


In British Columbia, Canada, drinking water is tested for total coliforms and Escherichia coli, but there is currently no routine follow-up testing to investigate fecal contamination sources in samples that test positive for indicator bacteria. Reliable microbial source tracking (MST) tools to rapidly test water samples for multiple fecal contamination markers simultaneously are currently lacking. The objectives of this study were (i) to develop a qualitative MST tool to identify fecal contamination from different host groups, and (ii) to evaluate the MST tool using water samples with evidence of fecal contamination. Singleplex and multiplex polymerase chain reaction (PCR) were used to test (i) water from polluted sites and (ii) raw and drinking water samples for presence of bacterial genetic markers associated with feces from humans, cattle, seagulls, pigs, chickens, and geese. The multiplex MST assay correctly identified suspected contamination sources in contaminated waterways, demonstrating that this test may have utility for heavily contaminated sites. Most raw and drinking water samples analyzed using singleplex PCR contained at least one host-associated marker. Singleplex PCR was capable of detecting host-associated markers in small sample volumes and is therefore a promising tool to further analyze water samples submitted for routine testing and provide information useful for water quality management.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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