Abstract

Free-living amoebae (FLA) are ubiquitous protozoa commonly found in water and soil environments. FLA belonging to various genera, including Acanthamoeba, Balamuthia, Naegleria, and Vermamoeba, can cause opportunistic and non-opportunistic infections in humans and animals such as keratitis or meningoencephalitis. In addition, some of them serve as hosts for a large number of pathogenic bacteria, yeasts, and viruses. The purpose of the present study was to assess the prevalence and molecular characterization of FLA in well water samples in İstanbul. Ten well water samples were collected from the taps and the presence of FLA was monitored both by the culture and polymerase chain reaction methods. FLA were isolated in 8 out of the 10 samples (80%) included in this study. Morphological analysis and partial sequencing of the 18S rDNA revealed the presence of Acanthamoeba genotypes T3 and T4, and Vermamoeba vermiformis in the investigated well water samples. This study reports for the first time the detection of Acanthamoeba genotype T3 in well water samples in İstanbul. The presence of potentially pathogenic amoebae in habitats related to human activities supports the relevance of FLA as a potential public health concern.

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