Microbiomes in drinking water treatment and distribution: a meta-analysis from source to tap

Thom, C., Smith, C. J. , Moore, G., Weir, P. and Ijaz, U. Z. (2022) Microbiomes in drinking water treatment and distribution: a meta-analysis from source to tap. Water Research, 212, 118106. (doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2022.118106) (PMID:35091225)

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A meta-analysis of existing and available Illumina 16S rRNA datasets from drinking water source, treatment and drinking water distribution systems (DWDS) were collated to compare changes in abundance and diversity throughout. Samples from bulk water and biofilm were used to assess principles governing microbial community assembly and the value of amplicon sequencing to water utilities. Individual phyla relationships were explored to identify competitive or synergistic factors governing DWDS microbiomes. The relative importance of stochasticity in the assembly of the DWDS microbiome was considered to identify the significance of source and treatment in determining communities in DWDS. Treatment of water significantly reduces overall species abundance and richness, with chlorination of water providing the most impact to individual taxa relationships. The assembly of microbial communities in the bulk water of the source, primary treatment process and DWDS is governed by more stochastic processes, as is the DWDS biofilm. DWDS biofilm is significantly different from bulk water in terms of local contribution to beta diversity, type and abundance of taxa present. Water immediately post chlorination has a more deterministic microbial assembly, highlighting the significance of this process in changing the microbiome, although elevated levels of stochasticity in DWDS samples suggest that this may not be the case at customer taps. 16S rRNA sequencing is becoming more routine, and may have several uses for water utilities, including: detection and risk assessment of potential pathogens such as those within the genera of Legionella and Mycobacterium; assessing the risk of nitrification in DWDS; providing improved indicators of process performance and monitoring for significant changes in the microbial community to detect contamination. Combining this with quantitative methods like flow cytometry will allow a greater depth of understanding of the DWDS microbiome.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Thom, Claire and Ijaz, Dr Umer and Smith, Professor Cindy
Authors: Thom, C., Smith, C. J., Moore, G., Weir, P., and Ijaz, U. Z.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering > Infrastructure and Environment
Journal Name:Water Research
ISSN (Online):1879-2448
Published Online:18 January 2022
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 Elsevier Ltd.
First Published:First published in Water Research 212:118106
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
309846Decentralised water technologiesWilliam SloanEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/V030515/1ENG - Infrastructure & Environment
170256Understanding microbial community through in situ environmental 'omic data synthesisUmer Zeeshan IjazNatural Environment Research Council (NERC)NE/L011956/1ENG - Infrastructure & Environment
301738Re-engineering drinking water biofilters by biological designCindy SmithRoyal Academy of Engineering (RAE)RCSRF1718\6\43ENG - Infrastructure & Environment