Our aim was to investigate the occurrence and identity of Legionella spp. in Dutch tap water installations using culture, real-time PCR and sequence analysis. The PCR assays used were a 16S rRNA gene based PCR with both a Legionella species specific probe and a L. pneumophila specific probe and a L. pneumophila-specific PCR based on the sequence of the mip gene. A total of 357 water samples from 250 locations in The Netherlands was investigated. The detection rates of Legionella spp. were 2,2% (8 of 357) by culture, and 87,1% (311 of 357) by PCR. The majority of samples was found to contain Legionella species other than L. pneumophila. These comprised of Legionella Like Amoebal Pathogens (LLAPs), L. busanensis, L. worsliensis and others. Fourteen (3,9%) samples were positive for L. pneumophila by either culture, 16S rRNA based PCR and/or mip based PCR. It is apparent from this study that Legionella spp. DNA is ubiquitous in Dutch potable water samples. Our findings further suggest that LLAPs and viable but nonculturable (VBNC) Legionella represent a large proportion of the population in man-made environments.

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