Fecal indicators and antibiotic resistance genes exhibit diurnal trends in the Chattahoochee River: Implications for water quality monitoring

Karena H. Nguyen, Shanon Smith, Alexis Roundtree, Dorian J. Feistel, Amy E. Kirby, Karen Levy, Mia Catharine Mattioli

Producción científica: Contribución a una revistaArtículorevisión exhaustiva


Water bodies that serve as sources of drinking or recreational water are routinely monitored for fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) by state and local agencies. Exceedances of monitoring thresholds set by those agencies signal likely elevated human health risk from exposure, but FIB give little information about the potential source of contamination. To improve our understanding of how within-day variation could impact monitoring data interpretation, we conducted a study at two sites along the Chattahoochee River that varied in their recreational usage and adjacent land-use (natural versus urban), collecting samples every 30 min over one 24-h period. We assayed for three types of microbial indicators: FIB (total coliforms and Escherichia coli); human fecal-associated microbial source tracking (MST) markers (crAssphage and HF183/BacR287); and a suite of clinically relevant antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs; blaCTX-M, blaCMY, MCR, KPC, VIM, NDM) and a gene associated with antibiotic resistance (intl1). Mean levels of FIB and clinically relevant ARGs (blaCMY and KPC) were similar across sites, while MST markers and intI1 occurred at higher mean levels at the natural site. The human-associated MST markers positively correlated with antibiotic resistant-associated genes at both sites, but no consistent associations were detected between culturable FIB and any molecular markers. For all microbial indicators, generalized additive mixed models were used to examine diurnal variability and whether this variability was associated with environmental factors (water temperature, turbidity, pH, and sunlight). We found that FIB peaked during morning and early afternoon hours and were not associated with environmental factors. With the exception of HF183/BacR287 at the urban site, molecular MST markers and intI1 exhibited diurnal variability, and water temperature, pH, and turbidity were significantly associated with this variability. For blaCMY and KPC, diurnal variability was present but was not correlated with environmental factors. These results suggest that differences in land use (natural or urban) both adjacent and upstream may impact overall levels of microbial contamination. Monitoring agencies should consider matching sample collection times with peak levels of target microbial indicators, which would be in the morning or early afternoon for the fecal associated indicators. Measuring multiple microbial indicators can lead to clearer interpretations of human health risk associated with exposure to contaminated water.

Idioma originalInglés
Número de artículo1029176
PublicaciónFrontiers in Microbiology
EstadoPublicada - 10 nov. 2022
Publicado de forma externa


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