Scientific article
Open access

Characterization of fecal indicator bacteria in sediments cores from the largest freshwater lake of Western Europe (Lake Geneva, Switzerland)

Published inEcotoxicology and environmental safety, vol. 78, p. 50-56
Publication date2012

This study characterized the fecal indicator bacteria (FIB), including Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Enteroccocus (ENT), disseminated over time in the Bay of Vidy, which is the most contaminated area of Lake Geneva. Sediments were collected from a site located at ∼500 m from the present waste water treatment plant (WWTP) outlet pipe, in front of the former WWTP outlet pipe, which was located at only 300 m from the coastal recreational area (before 2001). E. coli and ENT were enumerated in sediment suspension using the membrane filter method. The FIB characterization was performed for human Enterococcus faecalis (E. faecalis) and Enterococcus faecium (E. faecium) and human specific bacteroides by PCR using specific primers and a matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS). Bacterial cultures revealed that maximum values of 35.2×108 and 6.6×106 CFU g−1 dry sediment for E. coli and ENT, respectively, were found in the sediments deposited following eutrophication of Lake Geneva in the 1970s, whereas the WWTP started operating in 1964. The same tendency was observed for the presence of human fecal pollution: the percentage of PCR amplification with primers ESP-1/ESP-2 for E. faecalis and E. faecium indicated that more than 90% of these bacteria were from human origin. Interestingly, the PCR assays for specific-human bacteroides HF183/HF134 were positive for DNA extracted from all isolated strains of sediment surrounding WWPT outlet pipe discharge. The MALDI-TOF MS confirmed the presence of general E. coli and predominance E. faecium in isolated strains. Our results demonstrated that human fecal bacteria highly increased in the sediments contaminated with WWTP effluent following the eutrophication of Lake Geneva. Additionally, other FIB cultivable strains from animals or adapted environmental strains were detected in the sediment of the bay. The approaches used in this research are valuable to assess the temporal distribution and the source of the human fecal pollution in aquatic environments.

  • Lake Geneva
  • Fecal pollution
  • E. coli
  • Enterococcus
  • Human-bacteroides
  • Eutrophication
  • Sediment
Citation (ISO format)
THEVENON, Florian et al. Characterization of fecal indicator bacteria in sediments cores from the largest freshwater lake of Western Europe (Lake Geneva, Switzerland). In: Ecotoxicology and environmental safety, 2012, vol. 78, p. 50–56. doi: 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2011.11.005
Updates (1)
ISSN of the journal0147-6513

Technical informations

Creation01/16/2012 8:48:00 PM
First validation01/16/2012 8:48:00 PM
Update time03/14/2023 5:06:57 PM
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