A comparative analysis of drinking water employing metagenomics

Kyle D. Brumfield, Nur A. Hasan, Menu B. Leddy, Joseph A. Cotruvo, Shah M. Rashed, Rita R. Colwell, Anwar Huq

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


The microbiological content of drinking water traditionally is determined by employing culture- dependent methods that are unable to detect all microorganisms, especially those that are not culturable. High-throughput sequencing now makes it possible to determine the microbiome of drinking water. Thus, the natural microbiota of water and water distribution systems can now be determined more accurately and analyzed in significantly greater detail, providing comprehensive understanding of the microbial community of drinking water applicable to public health. In this study, shotgun metagenomic analysis was performed to determine the microbiological content of drinking water and to provide a preliminary assessment of tap, drinking fountain, sparkling natural mineral, and non-mineral bottled water. Predominant bacterial species detected were members of the phyla Actinobacteria and Proteobacteria, notably the genera Alishewanella, Salmonella, and Propionibacterium in non-carbonated non-mineral bottled water, Methyloversatilis and Methylibium in sparkling natural mineral water, and Mycobacterium and Afipia in tap and drinking fountain water. Fecal indicator bacteria, i.e., Escherichia coli or enterococci, were not detected in any samples examined in this study. Bacteriophages and DNA encoding a few virulence-associated factors were detected but determined to be present only at low abundance. Antibiotic resistance markers were detected only at abundance values below our threshold of confidence. DNA of opportunistic plant and animal pathogens was identified in some samples and these included bacteria (Mycobacterium spp.), protozoa (Acanthamoeba mauritaniensis and Acanthamoeba palestinensis), and fungi (Melampsora pinitorqua and Chryosporium queenslandicum). Archaeal DNA (Candidatus Nitrosoarchaeum) was detected only in sparkling natural mineral water. This preliminary study reports the complete microbiome (bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protists) of selected types of drinking water employing whole-genome high-throughput sequencing and bioinformatics. Investigation into activity and function of the organisms detected is in progress.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e0231210
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 9 2020
Externally publishedYes


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