Influence of land use and nutrient flux on metabolic activity of E. coli O157 in river water

Williams, A.P.; Quilliam, R.S.; Thorn, C.E.; Cooper, D.; Reynolds, B.; Jones, D.L.. 2012 Influence of land use and nutrient flux on metabolic activity of E. coli O157 in river water. Water Air and Soil Pollution, 223 (6). 3077-3083.

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Infections caused by waterborne Escherichia coli O157 continue to pose a public health risk. An increase in faecal coliform loading of watercourses due to expanding populations, intensification of agriculture and climate change are predicted to amplify these risks. Understanding the effect of land use on the ecology of E. coli O157 in environmental waters is therefore important for implementing effective mitigation measures. In order to test the hypothesis that activity of waterborne E. coli O157 is affected by both land use type and the respective autochthonous microbial communities, we inoculated replicate microcosms of water collected from areas of contrasting land uses within a catchment with a chromosomally lux-marked E. coli O157. Pathogen metabolic activity and its ability to reactivate following addition of nutrients were quantified over time in both filter-sterilised and non-sterile microcosms. Metabolic activity differed significantly according to the land use type, the degree of competition from background microbes and the availability of nutrients. These results indicate that land use types associated with particular areas of a watercourse should be considered a central factor in models that aim to predict pathogen risk in environmental waters.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Water
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Emmett
ISSN: 0049-6979
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: The attached document is the author’s final manuscript version of the journal article, incorporating any revisions agreed during the peer review process. Some differences between this and the publisher’s version remain. You are advised to consult the publisher’s version if you wish to cite from this article. The final publication is available at
Additional Keywords: animal waste, microbial pollution, quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA), sewage, Verocytotoxigenic E. coli (VTEC), Water Framework Directive
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Biology and Microbiology
Date made live: 21 Jan 2013 14:04 +0 (UTC)

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