Bacteroides spp. has gained substantial interest among the suggested potential candidates for alternative faecal indicators for untreated recreational waters by the US EPA. Interest in Bacteroides as a faecal indicator is based upon the relative abundance of selected members of the Bacteroides genus in the human colon and human faeces. In this study, we developed a real-time PCR detection system based on gyrase B subunit genes (gyrB) specific to Bacteroides fragilis. The gryB-based method was compared with previously described 16S rRNA-based real-time qPCR methods and evaluated for specificity, sensitivity and robustness in detecting B. fragilis from untreated recreational water impacted by human and non-human faecal sources. The new gyrB-based system only detected B. fragilis, whereas the 16S rRNA-based methods generated cross-amplifications with other Bacteroides and Prevotella species. We used a procedure of prefiltration, filtration, sonication and DNA concentration in order to improve the DNA extraction efficiency and the sensitivity of the real-time PCR while removing interference. The amplification and sequencing of PCR products generated by the gyrB-based method confirmed that gyrB-amplified sequences only contained B. fragilis. This rapid method is useful for quantifying faecal contamination and may assist beach and watershed managers in elucidating possible contamination sources.

This content is only available as a PDF.