Bacterial composition in a metropolitan drinking water distribution system utilizing different source waters

J Water Health. 2015 Mar;13(1):140-51. doi: 10.2166/wh.2014.057.


We investigated the bacterial composition of water samples from two service areas within a drinking water distribution system (DWDS), each associated with a different primary source of water (groundwater, GW; surface water, SW) and different treatment process. Community analysis based on 16S rRNA gene clone libraries indicated that Actinobacteria (Mycobacterium spp.) and α-Proteobacteria represented nearly 43 and 38% of the total sequences, respectively. Sequences closely related to Legionella, Pseudomonas, and Vibrio spp. were also identified. In spite of the high number of sequences (71%) shared in both areas, multivariable analysis revealed significant differences between the GW and SW areas. While the dominant phylotypes where not significantly contributing in the ordination of samples, the populations associated with the core of phylotypes (1-10% in each sample) significantly contributed to the differences between both service areas. Diversity indices indicate that the microbial community inhabiting the SW area is more diverse and contains more distantly related species coexisting with local assemblages as compared with the GW area. The bacterial community structure of SW and GW service areas were dissimilar, suggesting that their respective source water and/or water quality parameters shaped by the treatment processes may contribute to the differences in community structure observed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / classification*
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Chlorine / analysis
  • Cities
  • Drinking Water / chemistry
  • Drinking Water / microbiology*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Ohio
  • Phylogeny
  • RNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Rivers
  • Water Microbiology*
  • Water Supply / analysis*


  • Drinking Water
  • RNA, Bacterial
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • Chlorine