Microbial abundance and community composition in biofilms on in-pipe sensors in a drinking water distribution system
Reference: Science of the Total Environment (2020) DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.142314

Collecting biofilm samples from drinking water distribution systems (DWDSs) is challenging due to limited access to the pipes during regular operations. We report here the analysis of microbial communities in biofilm and water samples collected from sensors installed in a DWDS where monochloramine is used as a residual disinfectant. A total of 52 biofilm samples and 14 bulk water samples were collected from 17 pipe sections representing different water ages. Prokaryotic genome copies (bacterial and archaeal 16S rRNA genes, Mycobacterium spp., ammonia-oxidising bacteria (AOB), and cyanobacteria) were quantified with droplet digital PCR, which revealed the abundance of these genes in both biofilm and water samples. Prokaryotic 16S rRNA gene sequencing analysis was carried out for a subset of the samples (12 samples from four sites). Mycobacterium and AOB species were dominant in the DWDS sections with low water age and sufficient residual monochloramine, whereas Nitrospira species (nitrite-oxidising bacteria) dominated in the sections with higher water age and depleted monochloramine level, suggesting the occurrence of nitrification in the studied DWDS. The present study provides novel information on the abundance and identity of prokaryotes in biofilms and water in a full-scale operational DWDS.

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Published By
Kitajima M., Cruz M. C., Williams R.B.H., Wuertz S., Whittle A. J.