Bacteriophages have been explored as indicators of the presence of human viruses in water. F+ coliphages are of particular interest due to their abundance in wastewater and some groups survive the treatment process. This study assessed the prevalence of F+ coliphages and FRNA bacteriophage (FRNAPH) groups in the wastewater of Mumbai city and explored its correlation with the presence of SARS-CoV-2. Wastewater samples (raw = 63, treated = 99) collected from three wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) were assessed for F+ coliphages, FRNAPH groups and SARS-CoV-2. Of the 63 raw wastewater samples, 92% were positive for F+ coliphages and FRNAPH, while SARS-CoV-2 was detected in 76% of samples; FRNAPH GI RNA was the most prevalent (96.82%) followed by FRNAPH GII (77.77%), FRNAPH GIII (36.50%), and FRNAPH GIV (4.76%). A significant correlation was observed between the occurrence of SARS-CoV-2 and F+ coliphages, FRNAPH GII and FRNAPH GIII RNA copies and also between F+ coliphages and FRNAPH GII and GIII. These observations suggest that F+ coliphages, FRNAPH GII and GIII can be explored further as indicators of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater. Also, F+ coliphage detection may be a cost-effective and practical approach for monitoring virus elimination during wastewater treatment.

  • The occurrence of F+ coliphages, FRNAPH groups and SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater of Mumbai was studied.

  • FRNAPH GIII RNA and SARS-CoV-2 were detected only in raw wastewater samples.

  • FRNAPH GII RNA was detected in raw and secondary-treated samples.

  • A significant correlation was observed between SARS-CoV-2 and FRNAPH GII and GIII RNA.

  • FRNAPH GII and GIII can be further explored as indicators for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater.

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