Application of library-independent microbial source tracking methods for identifying the sources of faecal contamination in coastal areas

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Faecal contamination sources were identified in coastal areas around the Guerande-Atlantique peninsula using two microbial source tracking (MST) methods: (i) Bacteroidales host-specific 16S rRNA gene markers measured by real-time PCR and (ii) F-specific bacteriophage (FRNAPH) genotyping. Both methods were used on 63 water samples from 7 water courses. HF183 marker and bacteriophage genogroup II (FRNAPH II) were detected in all water samples and in the majority of water samples, respectively, from La Torre stream (W5), Piriac (W2), R2000 (W3) and Mazy (W7) rain water drains, and also detected, less frequently, in Le Nau drain (W4), suggesting contamination by human faecal sources at these sites. These human markers were weakly detected in Pouliguen channel (W6). Furthermore, BacR and bacteriophage genogroup I (FRNAPH I) were also detected, but at lower concentration and frequency. So, site W6 seems to be contaminated by multiple sources, though mainly human. Finally, BacR was detected twice in Pont d'Armes channel (W1), whereas HF183 was not detected. FRNAPH I and II were detected in only 3 out of 12 water samples. Site W1 seems mainly contaminated by animal sources. As a result of our findings, actions were taken to remediate water and shellfish quality.

Keywords: Bacteroidales, F-specific RNA bacteriophages, faecal bacterial indicators, microbial source tracking, water

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