Occurrence of diarrheagenic Escherichia coli genes in raw water of water treatment plants

Shih Wei Huang, Bing Mu Hsu, Yen Jui Su, Dar Der Ji, Wei Chen Lin, Jyh Larng Chen, Feng Cheng Shih, Po Min Kao, Yi Chou Chiu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The high incidences of waterborne diseases are frequently associated with diarrheagenic Escherichia coli (DEC). DEC may pose a health risk to people who contact surface water for recreation or domestic use. However, there is no published report on the monitoring of DEC in drinking water sources in Taiwan. In this study, the occurrence of DEC genes in raw water for water treatment plants in Taiwan was investigated. Method: Raw water samples were taken from water treatment plants adjacent to the Kaoping River in southern Taiwan. Each water sample was treated with membrane filtration followed by DNA extraction from the concentrate and concentrate enrichment, respectively. The target genes for various DEC strains of genes were identified, including enteroaggregative E. coli (EAEC), enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC), enteroinvasive E. coli (EIEC), enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC), and enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC). Results: Among 55 water samples analyzed, DEC genes were detected in 16 (29. 1%) samples. Strain-specific genes for EAEC, EHEC, EIEC, and EPEC were found in the percentages of 3. 6%, 10. 9%, 9. 1%, and 9. 1%, respectively. The specific gene for ETEC is not detected in the study. By looking at the presence/absence of specific genes and water sample characteristics, water temperature was found to differ significantly between samples with and without EHEC gene. In addition, pH levels differed significantly for EHEC and EPEC presence/absence genes, and turbidity was significantly different for water with and without EPEC genes. Conclusion: DEC genes were detected in 29. 1% of the raw water samples in the study location. The potential health threat may be increased if the treatment efficiencies are not properly maintained. Routine monitoring of DEC in drinking water sources should be considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2776-2783
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Aug

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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