Journal of applied microbiology

Characterization of the relative importance of human- and infrastructure-associated bacteria in grey water: a case study.

PMID 25898905


Development of efficacious grey water (GW) treatment systems would benefit from detailed knowledge of the bacterial composition of GW. Thus, the aim of this study was to characterize the bacterial composition from (i) various points throughout a GW recycling system that collects shower and sink handwash (SH) water into an equalization tank (ET) prior to treatment and (ii) laundry (LA) water effluent of a commercial-scale washer. Bacterial composition was analysed by high-throughput pyrosequencing of the 16S rRNA gene. LA was dominated by skin-associated bacteria, with Corynebacterium, Staphylococcus, Micrococcus, Propionibacterium and Lactobacillus collectively accounting for nearly 50% of the total sequences. SH contained a more evenly distributed community than LA, with some overlap (e.g. Propionibacterium), but also contained distinct genera common to wastewater infrastructure (e.g. Zoogloea). The ET contained many of these same wastewater infrastructure-associated bacteria, but was dominated by genera adapted for anaerobic conditions. The data indicate that a relatively consistent set of skin-associated genera are the dominant human-associated bacteria in GW, but infrastructure-associated bacteria from the GW collection system and ET used for transient storage will be the most common bacteria entering GW treatment and reuse systems. This study is the first to use high-throughput sequencing to identify the bacterial composition of various GW sources.