Microbial Community Composition of Tap Water and Biofilms Treated with or without Copper-Silver Ionization

Environ Sci Technol. 2018 Mar 20;52(6):3354-3364. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.7b05963. Epub 2018 Feb 28.


Copper-silver ionization (CSI) is an in-house water disinfection method primarily installed to eradicate Legionella bacteria from drinking water distribution systems (DWDS). Its effect on the abundance of culturable Legionella and Legionella infections has been documented in several studies. However, the effect of CSI on other bacteria in DWDS is largely unknown. To investigate these effects, we characterized drinking water and biofilm communities in a hospital using CSI, in a neighboring building without CSI, and in treated drinking water at the local water treatment plant. We used 16S rDNA amplicon sequencing and Legionella culturing. The sequencing results revealed three distinct water groups: (1) cold-water samples (no CSI), (2) warm-water samples at the research institute (no CSI), and (3) warm-water samples at the hospital (after CSI; ANOSIM, p < 0.001). Differences between the biofilm communities exposed and not exposed to CSI were less clear (ANOSIM, p = 0.022). No Legionella were cultured, but limited numbers of Legionella sequences were recovered from all 25 water samples (0.2-1.4% relative abundance). The clustering pattern indicated local selection of Legionella types (Kruskal-Wallis, p < 0.001). Furthermore, one unclassified Betaproteobacteria OTU was highly enriched in CSI-treated warm water samples at the hospital (Kruskal-Wallis, p < 0.001).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biofilms
  • Copper
  • Drinking Water*
  • Microbiota*
  • Silver
  • Water Microbiology
  • Water Purification*
  • Water Supply


  • Drinking Water
  • Silver
  • Copper