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Structure of bacterial communities in diverse freshwater habitats

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The structures and dynamics of bacterial communities from raw source water, groundwater, and drinking water before and after filtration were studied in four seasons of a year, with culture-independent methods. Genomic DNA from water samples was analyzed by the polymerase chain reaction – denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis system and by cloning of the 16S rRNA gene. Water samples exhibited complex denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis genetic profiles composed of many bands, corresponding to a great variety of bacterial taxa. The bacterial communities of different seasons from the four sampling sites clustered into two major groups: (i) water before and after filtration, and (ii) source water and groundwater. Phylogenetic analyses of the clones from the autumn sampling revealed 13 phyla, 19 classes, and 155 operational taxonomic units. Of the clones, 66% showed less than 97% similarities to known bacterial species. Representatives of the phyla Proteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, and Actinobacteria were found at all four sampling sites. Species belonging to the phylum Firmicutes were an important component of the microbial community in filtered water. Representatives of Enterobacteriaceae were not detected, indicating the absence of fecal pollution in the drinking water. Differences were found in the bacterial populations that were sampled from the same sites in different seasons. Each water habitat had a unique bacterial profile. Drinking water harbors diverse and dynamic microbial communities, part of which may be active and resilient to chlorine disinfection. This study provides, for the first time, basic data for uncultivable drinking water bacteria in Israel.

Keywords: Firmicutes; Proteobacteria; bacterial populations; drinking water; eau non traitée; eau potable; populations bactériennes; raw water

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Evolutionary and Environmental Biology, Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Haifa, Mount Carmel, Haifa 31905, Israel. 2: Nesin Central Laboratory, Mekorot National Water Co. Ltd., Jordan District, P.O. Box 610, Nazareth-Illit 17105, Israel.

Publication date: 2012-03-17

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  • Published since 1954, this monthly journal contains new research in the field of microbiology including applied microbiology and biotechnology; microbial structure and function; fungi and other eucaryotic protists; infection and immunity; microbial ecology; physiology, metabolism and enzymology; and virology, genetics, and molecular biology. It also publishes review articles and notes on an occasional basis, contributed by recognized scientists worldwide.
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