Analysis of physico-chemical characteristics of drinking water, biofilm formation and occurrence of antibiotic resistant bacteria
Mulamattathil, Suma George
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The main aim of the study was to analyse the impact of physico-chemical parameters on drinking water quality, biofilm formation and antibiotic resistant bacteria in the drinking water distribution system in Mafikeng, North West Province, South Africa. Another objective was to isolate and characterise Pseudomonas and Aeromonas species from drinking water distribution system and detect the virulence gene determinants in the isolates by PCR analysis. The physico-chemical data obtained were subjected to statistical analysis using Excel 2007 (Microsoft) and SPSS (version 14.0) programmes. Pearson’s correlation product of the moment was used to determine the correlation between EC, TDS, pH and temperature. The two tailed test of significance (p<0.05) was used in order to determine the significance of the result. Antibiotic susceptibility tests were performed using Kirby-Bauer disk diffusion method. Cluster analysis based on the antibiotic inhibition zone diameter data of different organisms isolated from different sites was determined and was expressed as dendograms using Wards algorithm and Euclidean distance of Statistica version 7. Specific PCR was used to determine the identities of presumptive Pseudomonas and Aeromonas species through amplification of the gyrB, toxA and the ecfX gene fragments. Virulence gene determinants for the confirmed Pseudomonas and Aeromonas species were detected by amplifying the exoA, exoS and exoT genes and the aerA and hylH gene fragments, respectively. A Gene Genius Bio imaging system (Syngene, Synoptics; UK) was used to capture the image using GeneSnap (version 3.07.01) software (Syngene, Synoptics; UK) to determine the relative size of amplicons. Physico-chemical parameters were monitored from three drinking water sources three times a week and bacteriological quality was monitored weekly for four months from raw and treated drinking water. Water samples were analysed for pH, temperature, total dissolved solids (TDS) and electric conductivity (EC). Bacterial consortia from drinking water samples were isolated using selective media and enumerated. The results revealed a good chemical quality of water. However, the microbial quality of the water is not acceptable for human consumption due to the presence of Pseudomonas, Aeromonas, faecal coliforms (FC), total coliforms (TC) and Heterotrophic bacteria. The results showed that the drinking water is slightly alkaline with pH value ranging between7.7 to 8.32. What is of concern was the microbial quality of the water. Pseudomonas sp., faecal coliforms (FC), total coliforms (TC) and heterotrophic bacteria were present in some of the treated water samples. The most significant finding of this study is that all drinking water samples were positive for Pseudomonas sp.(>100/100ml), but also that when one considers the TDS it demonstrates that water from the Modimola Dam has an impact on the quality of the mixed water. The prevalence and antibiotic resistance profiles of planktonic and biofilm bacteria isolated from drinking water were determined. The susceptibility of these isolates was tested against 11 antibiotics of clinical interest and the multiple antibiotic resistance (MAR) patterns were compiled. The most prevalent antibiotic resistance phenotype observed was KF-AP-C-E-OT-K-TM-A. All isolates from all samples were susceptible to ciprofloxacin. However, all faecal coliforms and Pseudomonas spp. were susceptible to neomycin and streptomycin. On the contrary all organisms tested were resistant to erythromycin (100%) trimethoprim and amoxycillin. Cluster analysis based on inhibition zone diameter data could not differentiate the various isolated into sample types. The highest prevalence of antibiotic resistant isolates was observed in Modimola Dam and Molopo eye. Biofilms were investigated in both raw water and treated drinking water sources for the presence of faecal coliforms, total coliforms, Pseudomonas spp., Aeromonas spp. and heterotrophic bacteria based on conventional microbiology and molecular methods. Drinking water biofilms were grown twice and the biofilm developing device containing copper and galvanized steel coupons were utilized. The Mini Tap filter, a home water treatment device which can be used at a single faucet, under constant flow was used during the second collection of treated water samples from cold water taps. Scanning electron micrograph revealed the existence of biofilms in all the sites investigated and the highest density was obtained on galvanized steel coupons. Isolates were tested against the antibiotics ampicillin (10μg), cephalothin (5μg), streptomycin (10μg), erythromycin (15μg), chloramphenicol (30μg), neomycin (30 μg), amoxycillin (10 μg), ciprofloxacin (5 μg), trimethoprim (25μg), kanamycin (30μg), and oxytetracycline (30μg). The multiple antibiotic resistance profiles and the presence of virulence related genes were determined. Various types of drug resistance and presence of virulence genes were observed. The most prevalent resistance phenotype observed was KF-AP-C-E-OT-TM-A. In conclusion, the results indicated the occurrence of faecal indicator bacteria in the drinking water destined for human consumption. Faecal indicator bacteria are the major contributors of poor drinking water quality and may harbour opportunistic pathogens. This highlighted survival of organisms to treatment procedures and the possible regrowth as biofilms in plumbing materials. The detection of large proportion of MAR Aeromonas and Pseudomonas species which possessed virulent genes was a cause of concern as these could pose health risks to humans. The data obtained herein may be useful in assessing the health risks associated with the consumption of contaminated water.