• Biogeography and Environmental Drivers of Abundance and Genotype Composition Across the West Bank: Relevance of a Genotype-Based Ecology for Understanding Occurrence.

      Zayed, Ashraf R; Butmeh, Suha; Pecellin, Marina; Salah, Alaa; Alalam, Hanna; Steinert, Michael; Höfle, Manfred G; Bitar, Dina M; Brettar, Ingrid; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (MDPI, 2020-12-01)
      The West Bank can be considered as a high-risk area for Legionella prevalence in drinking water due to high ambient temperature, intermittent water supply, frequent pressure loss, and storage of drinking water in roof containers. To assess occurrence of Legionella species, especially L. pneumophila, in the drinking water of the West Bank, the drinking water distribution systems of eight hospitals were sampled over a period of 2.3 years covering the seasonal cycle and the major geographic regions. To gain insight into potential environmental drivers, a set of physico-chemical and microbiological parameters was recorded. Sampling included drinking water and biofilm analyzed by culture and PCR-based methods. Cultivation led to the isolation of 180 strains of L. pneumophila that were genotyped by Multi-Locus Variable Number of Tandem Repeat Analysis (MLVA). Surprisingly, the abundance of culturable L. pneumophila was low in drinking water of the sampling sites, with only three out of eight sites where Legionella was observed at all (range: 30-500 CFU/liter). By contrast, biofilm and PCR-based analyses showed a higher prevalence. Statistical analyses with physico-chemical parameters revealed a decrease of L. pneumophila abundance for water and biofilm with increasing magnesium concentrations (>30 mg/l). MLVA-genotype analysis of the L. pneumophila isolates and their spatial distribution indicated three niches characterized by distinct physico-chemical parameters and inhabited by specific consortia of genotypes. This study provides novel insights into mechanisms shaping L. pneumophila populations and triggering their abundance leading to an understanding of their genotype-specific niches and ecology in support of improved prevention measures.