Genotype diversity of Escherichia coli isolates in natural waters determined by PFGE and ERIC-PCR. Academic Article uri icon


  • Most library-dependent bacterial source tracking studies using Escherichia coli (E. coli) have focused on strain diversity of isolates obtained from known human and animal faecal sources for library development. In contrast, this study evaluated the genotype variation of E. coli isolated from natural surface water using pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and enterobacterial repetitive intergenic consensus sequence polymerase chain reaction (ERIC-PCR) to better understand these naturally occurring populations. A total of 650 water samples were collected over a nine month period from eleven sampling stations from Lake Waco and Belton Lake in Central Texas. Of the 650 water samples collected, 412 were positive for E. coli, yielding a total of 631 E. coli isolates (1-12 isolates collected per sample). PFGE and ERIC-PCR patterns were successfully generated for 555 isolates and were compared using the curve-based Pearson's product-moment correlation coefficient. The 555 E. coli isolates represented 461 PFGE genotypes, with 84% (386/461) of the genotypes being represented by individual isolates. The remaining 75 genotypes were represented by 2-5 isolates each. Using ERIC-PCR, the 555 E. coli isolates represented 175 genotypes, with 63% (109/175) of the genotypes being represented by individual isolates. In contrast to the PFGE results, two ERIC-PCR genotypes represented 37% of the E. coli isolates, (83 and 124 isolates, respectively), and were found throughout the watersheds both spatially and temporally. Based on the PFGE genotype diversity of water isolates, there is little evidence that a small number of environmentally-adapted E. coli represent dominant populations in the studied waterbodies. However, with the lower discriminatory power technique ERIC-PCR, an opposing conclusion might have been drawn. These results emphasize the importance of considering the resolving power of the source tracking technique being used when assessing strain diversity and geographical stability.

published proceedings

  • Water Res

author list (cited authors)

  • Casarez, E. A., Pillai, S. D., & Di Giovanni, G. D.

citation count

  • 43

complete list of authors

  • Casarez, Elizabeth A||Pillai, Suresh D||Di Giovanni, George D

publication date

  • August 2007