Enterococcus phages as potential tool for identifying sewage inputs in the Great Lakes region

Journal of Great Lakes Research
By: , and 



Bacteriophages are viruses living in bacteria that can be used as a tool to detect fecal contamination in surface waters around the world. However, the lack of a universal host strain makes them unsuitable for tracking fecal sources. We evaluated the suitability of two newly isolated Enterococcus host strains (ENT-49 and ENT-55) capable for identifying sewage contamination in impacted waters by targeting phages specific to these hosts. Both host strains were isolated from wastewater samples and identified as E. faecium by 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Occurrence of Enterococcus phages was evaluated in sewage samples (n = 15) from five wastewater treatment plants and in fecal samples from twenty-two species of wild and domesticated animals (individual samples; n = 22). Levels of Enterococcus phages, F + coliphages, Escherichia coli and enterococci were examined from four rivers, four beaches, and three harbors. Enterococcus phages enumeration was at similar levels (Mean = 6.72 Log PFU/100 mL) to F + coliphages in all wastewater samples, but were absent from all non-human fecal sources tested. The phages infecting Enterococcus spp. and F + coliphages were not detected in the river samples (detection threshold < 10 PFU/100 mL), but were present in the beach and harbor samples (range = 1.83 to 2.86 Log PFU/100 mL). Slightly higher concentrations (range = 3.22 to 3.69 Log MPN/100 mL) of E. coli and enterococci when compared to F + coliphages and Enterococcus phages, were observed in the river, beach and harbor samples. Our findings suggest that the bacteriophages associated with these particular Enterococcus host strains offer potentially sensitive and human-source specific indicators of enteric pathogen risk.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Enterococcus phages as potential tool for identifying sewage inputs in the Great Lakes region
Series title Journal of Great Lakes Research
DOI 10.1016/j.jglr.2014.09.011
Volume 40
Issue 4
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Great Lakes Science Center
Description 5 p.
First page 989
Last page 993
Other Geospatial Great Lakes
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details