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Occurrence of and Sequence Variation among F-Specific RNA Bacteriophage Subgroups in Feces and Wastewater of Urban and Animal Origins

Abstract : F-specific RNA bacteriophages (FRNAPH) have been widely studied as tools for evaluating fecal or viral pollution in water. It has also been proposed that they can be used to differentiate human from animal fecal contamination. While FRNAPH subgroup I (FRNAPH-I) and FRNAPH-IV are often associated with animal pollution, FRNAPH-II and -III prevail in human wastewater. However, this distribution is not absolute, and variable survival rates in these subgroups lead to misinterpretation of the original distribution. In this context, we studied FRNAPH distribution in urban wastewater and animal feces/wastewater. To increase the specificity, we partially sequenced the genomes of phages of urban and animal origins. The persistence of the genomes and infectivity were also studied, over time in wastewater and during treatment, for each subgroup. FRNAPH-I genome sequences did not show any specific urban or animal clusters to allow development of molecular tools for differentiation. They were the most resistant and as such may be used as fecal or viral indicators. FRNAPH-II's low prevalence and low sequence variability in animal stools, combined with specific clusters formed by urban strains, allowed differentiation between urban and animal pollution by using a specific reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR) method. The subgroup's resistance over time was comparable to that of FRNAPH-I, but its surface properties allowed higher elimination rates during activated-sludge treatment. FRNAPH-III's low sequence variability in animal wastewater and specific cluster formation by urban strains also allowed differentiation by using a specific RT-PCR method. Nevertheless, its low resistance restricted it to being used only for recent urban pollution detection. FRNAPH-IV was too rare to be used.
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C. Hartard, R. Rivet, S. Banas, C. Gantzer. Occurrence of and Sequence Variation among F-Specific RNA Bacteriophage Subgroups in Feces and Wastewater of Urban and Animal Origins. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, American Society for Microbiology, 2015, 81 (18), pp.6505-6515. ⟨10.1128/AEM.01905-15⟩. ⟨hal-01505216⟩

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