Composition and distribution of bacteria in an operating rainwater harvesting tank

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

In this study, we investigated the phylogenetic distribution of the bacteria present in an operating rainwater tank by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE), and compared the bacterial composition in rainwater and biofilm from the inlet and outlet of the tank. Seventeen species were identified, the DGGE profiles of which showed a clear difference between the planktonic bacterial community and the community in the biofilm. Most of the bacteria were closely related to fresh water, soil, and biofilm bacteria found in natural environments. The high proportion of Proteobacteria indicates the generally clean oligotrophic nature of the tank water. Biofilm formation is an advantage for bacteria that exist in oligotrophic environments. The groups identified in the biofilm, such as Sphingomonas, Bacillus, and Sphingophyxis, have been demonstrated to degrade certain contaminants and to act as bio-control agents. Thus, biofilm formation in rainwater tanks not only represents a survival strategy for bacteria, but also serves as a natural filter by removing contaminants and bacteria from rainwater.

Keywords: bacterial composition, biofilm, DGGE, rainwater, rainwater tank

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