Evidence of avian and possum fecal contamination in rainwater tanks as determined by microbial source tracking approaches

W. Ahmed, K. A. Hamilton, P. Gyawali, S. Toze, C. N. Haas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Avian and possum fecal droppings may negatively impact roof-harvested rainwater (RHRW) water quality due to the presence of zoonotic pathogens. This study was aimed at evaluating the performance characteristics of a possum feces-associated (PSM) marker by screening 210 fecal and wastewater samples from possums (n=20) and a range of nonpossum hosts (n=190) in Southeast Queensland, Australia. The host sensitivity and specificity of the PSM marker were 0.90 and 0.95 (maximum value, 1.00), respectively. The mean concentrations of the GFD marker in possum fecal DNA samples (8.8x107 gene copies per g of feces) were two orders of magnitude higher than those in the nonpossum fecal DNA samples (5.0x105 gene copies per g of feces). The host sensitivity, specificity, and concentrations of the avian feces-associated GFD marker were reported in our recent study (W. Ahmed, V. J. Harwood, K. Nguyen, S. Young, K. Hamilton, and S. Toze, Water Res 88:613-622, 2016, http://dx.doi.org /10.1016/j.watres.2015.10.050). The utility of the GFD and PSM markers was evaluated by testing a large number of tank water samples (n=134) from the Brisbane and Currumbin areas. GFD and PSM markers were detected in 39 of 134 (29%) and 11 of 134 (8%) tank water samples, respectively. The GFD marker concentrations in PCR-positive samples ranged from 3.7x102 to 8.5x105 gene copies per liter, whereas the concentrations of the PSM marker ranged from 2.0x103 to 6.8x103 gene copies per liter of water. The results of this study suggest the presence of fecal contamination in tank water samples from avian and possum hosts. This study has established an association between the degradation of microbial tank water quality and avian and possum feces. Based on the results, we recommend disinfection of tank water, especially for tanks designated for potable use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4379-4386
Number of pages8
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Volume82
Issue number14
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

    Fingerprint

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology

Cite this