In temperate regions, seasonal variability of environmental factors affects the bacterial community in source water and finished drinking water. Therefore, the bacterial core community and its seasonal variability in cold and the respective hot drinking water was investigated. The bacterial core community was studied by 16S rRNA-based SSCP fingerprint analyses and band sequencing of DNA and RNA extracts of cold and hot water (60 °C). The bacterial communities of cold and hot drinking water showed a highly different structure and phylogenetic composition both for RNA and DNA extracts. For cold drinking water substantial seasonal dynamics of the bacterial community was observed related to environmental factors such as temperature and precipitation affecting source and drinking water. Phylogenetic analyses of the cold water community indicated that the majority of phylotypes were very closely affiliated with those detected in former studies of the same drinking water supply system (DWSS) in the preceding 6 years, indicating a high stability over time. The hot water community was very stable over time and seasons and highly distinct from the cold water with respect to structure and composition. The hot water community displayed a lower diversity and its phylotypes were mostly affiliated with bacteria of high temperature habitats with high growth rates indicated by their high RNA content. The conversion of the cold to the hot water bacterial community is considered as occurring within a few hours by the following two processes, i) by decay of most of the cold water bacteria due to heating, and ii) rapid growth of the high temperature adapted bacteria present in the hot water (co-heated with the cold water in the same device) using the nutrients released from the decaying cold water bacteria. The high temperature adapted bacteria originated partially from low abundant but beforehand detected members of the cold water; additionally, the rare members ("seed bank ") of the cold water are considered as a source.
Keywords: 16S rRNA; Bacterial community; Community dynamics; Domestic hot water; SSCP fingerprints; Seasonal variation.
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