Metagenomic analysis of viruses in reclaimed water

Environ Microbiol. 2009 Nov;11(11):2806-20. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2009.01964.x. Epub 2009 Jun 25.


Reclaimed water use is an important component of sustainable water resource management. However, there are concerns regarding pathogen transport through this alternative water supply. This study characterized the viral community found in reclaimed water and compared it with viruses in potable water. Reclaimed water contained 1000-fold more virus-like particles than potable water, having approximately 10(8) VLPs per millilitre. Metagenomic analyses revealed that most of the viruses in both reclaimed and potable water were novel. Bacteriophages dominated the DNA viral community in both reclaimed and potable water, but reclaimed water had a distinct phage community based on phage family distributions and host representation within each family. Eukaryotic viruses similar to plant pathogens and invertebrate picornaviruses dominated RNA metagenomic libraries. Established human pathogens were not detected in reclaimed water viral metagenomes, which contained a wealth of novel single-stranded DNA and RNA viruses related to plant, animal and insect viruses. Therefore, reclaimed water may play a role in the dissemination of highly stable viruses. Information regarding viruses present in reclaimed water but not in potable water can be used to identify new bioindicators of water quality. Future studies will need to investigate the infectivity and host range of these viruses to evaluate the impacts of reclaimed water use on human and ecosystem health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / virology
  • Humans
  • Metagenomics*
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Plants / virology
  • Viral Load
  • Virion / ultrastructure
  • Viruses / classification*
  • Viruses / genetics
  • Viruses / isolation & purification*
  • Water Microbiology*
  • Water Purification