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Incidence of somatic and F+ coliphage in Great Lake Basin recreational waters.

Water research (2018-05-02)
Pauline Wanjugi, Mano Sivaganesan, Asja Korajkic, Brian McMinn, Catherine A Kelty, Eric Rhodes, Mike Cyterski, Richard Zepp, Kevin Oshima, Elyse Stachler, Julie Kinzelman, Stephan R Kurdas, Mark Citriglia, Fu-Chih Hsu, Brad Acrey, Orin C Shanks

There is a growing interest for the use of coliphage as an alternative indicator to assess fecal pollution in recreational waters. Coliphage are a group of viruses that infect Escherichia coli and are considered as potential surrogates to infer the likely presence of enteric viral pathogens. We report the use of a dead-end hollow fiber ultrafiltration single agar layer method to enumerate F+ and somatic coliphage from surface waters collected from three Great Lake areas. At each location, three sites (two beaches; one river) were sampled five days a week over the 2015 beach season (n = 609 total samples). In addition, culturable E. coli and enterococci concentrations, as well as 16 water quality and recreational area parameters were assessed such as rainfall, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, pH, and ultra violet absorbance. Overall, somatic coliphage levels ranged from non-detectable to 4.39 log10 plaque forming units per liter and were consistently higher compared to F+ (non-detectable to 3.15 log10 PFU/L), regardless of sampling site. Coliphage concentrations weakly correlated with cultivated fecal indicator bacteria levels (E. coli and enterococci) at 75% of beach sites tested in study (r = 0.28 to 0.40). In addition, ultraviolet light absorption and water temperature were closely associated with coliphage concentrations, but not fecal indicator bacteria levels suggesting different persistence trends in Great Lake waters between indicator types (bacteria versus virus). Finally, implications for coliphage water quality management and future research directions are discussed.

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