Total coliphages removal by activated sludge process and their morphological diversity by transmission electron microscopy

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

This study was conducted to isolate phages in treated sewage collected from wastewater treatment plant, and explore their morphological diversity by transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Fates of total bacteriophages and their reduction by biological treatment were also assayed. Phages were isolated using the plaque assay then negatively stained and observed by electron microscope. Electron micrographs showed different types of phages with different shapes and sizes. The majority of viruses found in treated sewage ranged from 30 to 100 nm in capsid diameter. Many of them were tailed, belonging to Siphoviridae, Myoviridae and Podoviridae families. Non-tailed phage particles were also found at a low rate, presumably belonging to Leviviridae or Microviridae families. This study shows the diversity and the abundance of bacteriophages in wastewater after biological treatment. Their persistence in wastewater reused in agriculture should raise concerns about their potential role in controlling bacterial populations in the environment. They should be also included in water treatment quality controlling guidelines as fecal and viral indicators.

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