Isolates (50) of E. coli obtained from liquid manure (20 bovine, 20 porcine) were genotyped using random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD). Typing revealed 9 and 14 different strains in bovine and porcine liquid manure respectively with no strains in common. One porcine strain, showing a simple RAPD pattern, was subcultured and spread on a test field (1.5l/m2 at 1010 cfu/l) in a drinking water protection zone with loamy to sandy sediments in the Donauried area, Baden-Wurttemberg. Soil samples and groundwaters were collected at monthly intervals October 1994 – June 1995 during which 114 E. coli isolates were recovered. The first occurrence and maximum concentration of E. coli in soil samples taken from more than 20cm depth was in January 1995, declining rapidly with depth and time. All isolates from soil and only one from groundwater showed the RAPD pattern of the spread E. coli strain. The results could not demonstrate a severe negative impact of the spreading of liquid manure on the bacteriological quality of the groundwater in the given geological situation. The distinct strain patterns found in different kinds of liquid manure suggest that genotyping of E. coli by RAPD may be an adequate tool for tracing sources of faecal contamination.

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