• Analysis of structure and composition of bacterial core communities in mature drinking water biofilms and bulk water of a citywide network in Germany.

      Henne, Karsten; Kahlisch, Leila; Brettar, Ingrid; Höfle, Manfred G (2012-05)
      The bacterial core communities of bulk water and corresponding biofilms of a more than 20-year-old drinking water network were compared using 16S rRNA single-strand confirmation polymorphism (SSCP) fingerprints based on extracted DNA and RNA. The structure and composition of the bacterial core community in the bulk water was highly similar (>70%) across the city of Braunschweig, Germany, whereas all biofilm samples contained a unique community with no overlapping phylotypes from bulk water. Biofilm samples consisted mainly of Alphaproteobacteria (26% of all phylotypes), Gammaproteobacteria (11%), candidate division TM6 (11%), Chlamydiales (9%), and Betaproteobacteria (9%). The bulk water community consisted primarily of Bacteroidetes (25%), Betaproteobacteria (20%), Actinobacteria (16%), and Alphaproteobacteria (11%). All biofilm communities showed higher relative abundances of single phylotypes and a reduced richness compared to bulk water. Only biofilm communities sampled at nearby sampling points showed similar communities irrespective of support materials. In all of our bulk water studies, the community composition determined from 16S rRNA was completely different from the 16S rRNA gene-based community composition, whereas in biofilms both molecular fractions resulted in community compositions that were similar to each other. We hypothesize that a higher fraction of active bacterial phylotypes and a better protection from oxidative stress in drinking water biofilms are responsible for this higher similarity.
    • High-resolution in situ genotyping of Legionella pneumophila populations in drinking water by multiple-locus variable-number tandem-repeat analysis using environmental DNA.

      Kahlisch, Leila; Henne, Karsten; Draheim, Josefin; Brettar, Ingrid; Höfle, Manfred G; Department of Vaccinology and Applied Microbiology, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI), 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2010-09)
      Central to the understanding of infections by the waterborne pathogen Legionella pneumophila is its detection at the clonal level. Currently, multiple-locus variable-number tandem-repeat (VNTR) analysis (MLVA) of L. pneumophila isolates can be used as a tool for high-resolution genotyping. Since L. pneumophila is difficult to isolate, the isolation of outbreak strains often fails due to a viable but nonculturable (VBNC) state of the respective environmental population. Therefore, we developed a cultivation-independent approach to detect single clones in drinking water. This approach is based on the extraction of DNA from drinking water followed by PCR using a set of eight VNTR primer pairs necessary for MLVA genotyping of L. pneumophila. The PCR amplicons were analyzed by single-strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) and capillary electrophoresis to obtain the respective MLVA profiles. Parallel to the high-resolution analysis, we used the same environmental DNA to quantify the number of L. pneumophila cells in drinking water using real-time PCR with 16S rRNA gene-targeted primers. We used a set of drinking water samples from a small-scale drinking water network to test our approach. With these samples we demonstrated that the developed approach was directly applicable to DNA obtained from drinking water. We were able to detect more L. pneumophila MLVA genotypes in drinking water than we could detect by isolation. Our approach could be a valuable tool to identify outbreak strains even after the outbreak has occurred and has the potential to be applied directly to clinical material.