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Pathogen identification and microbial source tracking (MST) to identify sources of fecal pollution improve evaluation of water quality. They contribute to improved assessment of human health risks and remediation of pollution sources. An MST microarray was used to simultaneously detect genes for multiple pathogens and indicators of fecal pollution in freshwater, marine water, sewage-contaminated freshwater and marine water, and treated wastewater. Dead-end ultrafiltration (DEUF) was used to concentrate organisms from water samples, yielding a recovery efficiency of > 95% for Escherichia coli and human polyomavirus. Whole-genome amplification (WGA) increased gene copies from ultrafiltered samples and increased the sensitivity of the microarray. Viruses (adenovirus, bocavirus, hepatitis A virus, and human polyomaviruses) were detected in sewage-contaminated samples. Pathogens such as Legionella pneumophila, Shigella flexneri, and Campylobacter fetus were detected along with genes conferring resistance to aminoglycosides, beta-lactams, and tetracycline. Nonmetric dimensional analysis of MST marker genes grouped sewage-spiked freshwater and marine samples with sewage and apart from other fecal sources. The sensitivity (percent true positives) of the microarray probes for gene targets anticipated in sewage was 51 to 57% and was lower than the specificity (percent true negatives; 79 to 81%). A linear relationship between gene copies determined by quantitative PCR and microarray fluorescence was found, indicating the semiquantitative nature of the MST microarray. These results indicate that ultrafiltration coupled with WGA provides sufficient nucleic acids for detection of viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and antibiotic resistance genes by the microarray in applications ranging from beach monitoring to risk assessment.

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Applied and Environmental Microbiology, v. 82. issue 5, p. 1625-1635

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