Molecular detection of Acanthamoeba spp., Naegleria fowleri and Vermamoeba (Hartmannella) vermiformis as vectors for Legionella spp. in untreated and solar pasteurized harvested rainwater

Penelope H. Dobrowsky, Sehaam Khan, Thomas E. Cloete, Wesaal Khan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Legionella spp. employ multiple strategies to adapt to stressful environments including the proliferation in protective biofilms and the ability to form associations with free-living amoeba (FLA). The aim of the current study was to identify Legionella spp., Acanthamoeba spp., Vermamoeba (Hartmannella) vermiformis and Naegleria fowleri that persist in a harvested rainwater and solar pasteurization treatment system. Methods: Pasteurized (45 °C, 65 °C, 68 °C, 74 °C, 84 °C and 93 °C) and unpasteurized tank water samples were screened for Legionella spp. and the heterotrophic plate count was enumerated. Additionally, ethidium monoazide quantitative polymerase chain reaction (EMA-qPCR) was utilized for the quantification of viable Legionella spp., Acanthamoeba spp., V. vermiformis and N. fowleri in pasteurized (68 °C, 74 °C, 84 °C and 93 °C) and unpasteurized tank water samples, respectively. Results: Of the 82 Legionella spp. isolated from unpasteurized tank water samples, Legionella longbeachae (35 %) was the most frequently isolated, followed by Legionella norrlandica (27 %) and Legionella rowbothamii (4 %). Additionally, a positive correlation was recorded between the heterotrophic plate count vs. the number of Legionella spp. detected (ρ = 0.710, P = 0.048) and the heterotrophic plate count vs. the number of Legionella spp. isolated (ρ = 0.779, P = 0.0028) from the tank water samples collected. Solar pasteurization was effective in reducing the gene copies of viable V. vermiformis (3-log) and N. fowleri (5-log) to below the lower limit of detection at temperatures of 68-93 °C and 74-93 °C, respectively. Conversely, while the gene copies of viable Legionella and Acanthamoeba were significantly reduced by 2-logs (P = 0.0024) and 1-log (P = 0.0015) overall, respectively, both organisms were still detected after pasteurization at 93 °C. Conclusions: Results from this study indicate that Acanthamoeba spp. primarily acts as the vector and aids in the survival of Legionella spp. in the solar pasteurized rainwater as both organisms were detected and were viable at high temperatures (68-93 °C).

Original languageEnglish
Article number539
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalParasites and Vectors
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Acanthamoeba
  • Legionella
  • Naegleria
  • Rainwater harvesting
  • Solar pasteurization
  • Vermamoeba

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases

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