Brevundimonas diminuta is the test organism specified in the United States Environmental Protection Agency's (USEPA) reverse osmosis (RO) treatment device verification protocol. As non-selective growth medium is employed, enumeration of B. diminuta may be impaired due to interference by indigenous heterotrophic bacteria. Thus the microbial removal capability of the filtration system may be incorrectly assessed. As these treatment devices are used in emergency situations, the health of the public could be compromised. The objective of this study was to develop selective approaches for enumerating viable B. diminuta in test water. Two molecular approaches were investigated: expression of a kanamycin resistance gene and expression of a fluorescent protein gene. The USEPA protocol specifies a 0.3 μm cell size, so the expression of the selective markers were assessed following growth on media designed to induce this small cell diameter. The kanR strain was demonstrated to be equivalent to the wild type in cell dimension and survival following exposure to the test water. The kanR strain showed equivalent performance to the wild type in the RO protocol indicating that it is a viable alternative surrogate. By utilizing this strain, a more accurate validation of the RO system can be achieved.

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