Faecal pollution affects abundance and diversity of aquatic microbial community in anthropo-zoogenically influenced lotic ecosystems

Sci Rep. 2019 Dec 19;9(1):19469. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-56058-x.


The aquatic microbiota is known to be an important factor in the sustainability of the natural water ecosystems. However, the microbial community also might include pathogens, which result in very serious waterborne diseases in humans and animals. Faecal pollution is the major cause of these diseases. Therefore, it is of immense importance to assess the potential impact of faecal pollution, originating from both anthropogenic and zoogenic sources, on the profile of microbial communities in natural water environments. To this end, the microbial taxonomic diversity of lotic ecosystems in different regions of Norway, representing urban and rural areas, exposed to various levels of faecal pollution, was investigated over the course of a 1-year period. The highest microbial diversity was found in rural water that was the least faecally polluted, while the lowest was found in urban water with the highest faecal contamination. The overall diversity of the aquatic microbial community was significantly reduced in severely polluted water. In addition, the community compositions diverged between waters where the dominant pollution sources were of anthropogenic or zoogenic origin. The results provide new insight into the understanding of how faecal water contamination, specifically that of different origins, influences the microbial diversity of natural waters.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Environmental Monitoring / statistics & numerical data
  • Feces / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Norway
  • Rivers / microbiology*
  • Seasons
  • Waste Water / microbiology*
  • Water Microbiology*
  • Water Pollution*


  • Waste Water