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Keywords:

  • Bacteroides marker;
  • faecal indicator bacteria;
  • faecal pollution;
  • microbial source tracking;
  • polymerase chain reaction

Abstract

Aims:  This paper reports on the results of a study aimed at evaluating the specificity and sensitivity of human-specific HF183 and HF134 Bacteroides markers in various host groups and their utility to detect human faecal pollution in storm water samples collected from nonsewered catchments in Southeast Queensland, Australia.

Methods and Results:  The specificity and sensitivity of the HF183 and HF134 Bacteroides markers was evaluated by testing 207 faecal samples from 13 host groups, including 52 samples from human sources (via sewage and septic tanks). Polymerase chain reaction analysis of these samples revealed the presence/absence of HF183 and HF134 across these host groups, demonstrating their suitability for distinguishing between human and animal faecal pollution. The HF183 marker was found to be more reliable than that of HF134, which was also found in dogs.

Conclusions:  Based on our data, it appears that the HF183 marker is specific to sewage and is a reliable marker for detecting human faecal pollution, while the use of HF134 marker alone may not be sufficient enough to provide the evidence of human faecal pollution.

Significance and Impact of the Study:  This is the first study in Australia that rigorously evaluated the specificity and sensitivity of Bacteroides markers. Based on our findings, we suggest that the HF183 marker could reliably be used to detect the sources of human faecal pollution in Southeast Queensland region.