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Marker genes of fecal indicator bacteria and potential pathogens in animal feces in subtropical catchments

Ahmed, Warish, O'Dea, Christian, Masters, Nicole, Kuballa, Anna, Marinoni, Oswald, Katouli, Mohammad
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.656 pp. 1427-1435
Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium parvum, Enterococcus, Escherichia coli, Giardia lamblia, Macropus giganteus, Mycobacterium avium complex, Pteropodidae, Salmonella, cattle, chickens, dogs, feces, genetic markers, humans, indicator species, pathogens, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, risk assessment, swine, watersheds, wild animals
We investigated the abundance of marker genes of two fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) and eight potential pathogens in fecal samples of humans (n = 14) and 10 domestic and native wild animals (n = 134). For each target animal, between 10 and 14 individual fecal samples were collected (n = 148 individual fecal samples in total). The abundance of FIB and potential pathogens within each sample was determined using quantitative PCR (qPCR) assays. All animals tested were positive for Escherichia coli (EC) and the concentrations ranged from 6.13 (flying fox) to 8.87 (chicken) log10 GC/g of feces. These values for Enterococcus spp. (ENT) were 5.25 log10 GC/g for flying fox and 8.12 log10 GC/g of feces for chicken. Moderate correlations were observed between EC with P. aeruginosa, EC O157 and Cryptosporidium parvum, whereas weak correlations were observed between EC and Salmonella spp. and Giardia lamblia, Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) and Campylobacter spp. The prevalence of MAC and P. aeruginosa were low in dog (14.3% each) and moderate (57.2%, MAC; 42.9% P. aeruginosa) in Eastern grey kangaroo fecal samples. Cryptosporidium parvum was detected in one cattle and one human fecal sample, while G. lamblia was detected in one dog, one flying fox, and one pig fecal samples. Among the eight potential pathogens tested, five pathogens were detected in chicken and dog fecal samples. The remaining animal species contained up to three potential pathogens in their feces. The data generated in this study may aid in the calculation of pathogen loads in the environment, and hence to assess the risks from human and animal fecal contamination of source waters.