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Tracking the Sources of Fecal Contaminations: an Interdisciplinary Toolbox

Abstract : Fecal contaminations of inland and coastal waters induce risks to human health and economic losses. In order to improve water management, it is necessary to identify the sources of contamination, which implies the development of specific markers. In order to be considered as a valuable host-specific marker, one must (1) be source specific, (2) occur in high concentration in polluting matrices, (3) exhibit extra-intestinal persistence similar to fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) and (4) not grow out of the host. However, up to day no single marker has fulfilled all those criteria. Thus, it has been suggested to use a combination of markers in order to generate more reliable data. This has lead to the development of a Microbial Source Tracking (MST) toolbox including FIB and microbial and chemical specific markers in order to differentiate between human, bovine and porcine fecal contaminations. Those specific markers are, (1) genotypes of F-specific RNA bacteriophages, (2) bacterial markers belonging to the Bacteroidales (human-specific HF183, ruminant-specific Rum-2-Bac and pig-specific Pig-2-Bac markers), to the Bifidobacterium (Bifidobacterium adolescentis) and pig-specific Lactobacillus amylovorus, (3) fecal stanols and (4) caffeine. The development of this MST toolbox was composed of four steps, from the molecular scale to the watershed scale. At the molecular scale, the specificity and the concentration of those markers were studied in cattle and pig manures and in waste water treatment plant (WWTP) effluents and influents. At the microcosm scale, the transfer of bovine and porcine specific markers was investigated by rainfall simulations on agricultural plots amended with cattle or pig manure. Moreover, the relative persistence of FIB and human, porcine and bovine specific markers was investigated in freshwater and seawater microcosms inoculated with a WWTP influent, pig manure and cow manure. Finally, the aforementioned MST toolbox has been validated at the catchment scale by analysing three rivers impacted by fecal contaminations. The development and the application of this MST toolbox have highlighted (1) the specificity of the aforementioned markers, (2) their conservative transfer from soils to rivers and (3) their difference of persistence in seawater and in freshwater. Those results provide useful data in order to identify and manage fecal contaminations of superficial waters. In the case of single source contaminations, the markers provide coherent information: (1) the bovine or porcine markers were not detected in a river impacted by a WWTP effluent; (2) the occurrence of Rum-2-Bac and the distribution of stanols indicated a bovine contamination in a river flowing through cattle pasture. In the case of multiple source contaminations, the combination of markers is necessary to identify the main sources and the statistical treatment of the distribution of stanols could provide an approximation of their proportion.
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Submitted on : Thursday, February 2, 2012 - 9:22:54 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, January 9, 2020 - 11:16:02 AM

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Laurent Jeanneau, Emilie Jardé, Morgane Derrien, Gérard Gruau, O. Solecki, et al.. Tracking the Sources of Fecal Contaminations: an Interdisciplinary Toolbox. American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2011, Dec 2011, United States. pp.H51Q-05. ⟨insu-00665470⟩

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