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Diversity and dynamics of bacterial communities in the drinking water distribution network of a mid-sized city in Brazil

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Paola Meynet, Professor David WernerORCiD, Professor Russell DavenportORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


This study assessed the bacterial community composition of a drinking water system (DWS) serving a mid-sized city (120,000 inhabitants) in Brazil. Water samples, including raw and treated water, were collected at seven points throughout the DWS. DNA was extracted and analysed using high-throughput sequencing (Ion Torrent). Free chlorine and turbidity were measured in situ. Results showed that the highest relative abundance of 16S rRNA genes was from phyla Proteobacteria, followed by Bacteroidetes and Actinobacteria. The next most abundant phylum was Cyanobacteria, represented by Arthronema, Calothrix, and Synechococcus. An interesting observation was that the DNA-based analysis suggested a bacterial community change in the distribution network, with treated reservoir water being very different from the network samples. This suggests active microbiology within the distribution network and a tendency for bacterial diversity to decrease after chlorine disinfection but increase after pipeline distribution. In raw water, a predominance of Proteobacteria was observed with reduced Cyanobacteria, showing a negative correlation. In treated water, Proteobacteria were negatively correlated with Bacteroidetes. Finally, 16S rRNA genes from Firmicutes (especially Staphylococcus) had a high abundance in the chlorinated water, which may indicate the phylum's resistance to chlorine residuals. Opportunistic pathogens, e.g., Mycobacteria, Legionella, and Staphylococcus, were also observed.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Batista AMM, Siqueira JC, Meynet P, Werner D, Garcia GPP, Davenport RJ, Pereira AD, Siniscalchi LAB, Araujo JC, Mota Filho CR

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Water and Health

Year: 2022

Volume: 20

Issue: 12

Pages: 1733-1747

Print publication date: 01/12/2022

Acceptance date: 08/11/2022

Date deposited: 10/01/2023

ISSN (print): 1477-8920

ISSN (electronic): 1996-7829

Publisher: IWA Publishing


DOI: 10.2166/wh.2022.177

PubMed id: 36573676


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Funder referenceFunder name
British Council
CAPES (Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior)
FAPEMIG (Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de Minas Gerais)
Project Global Innovation Partnership to Investigate, Restore, and Protect the Urban Water Environment