Occurrence, genetic diversity, and persistence of enterococci in a lake superior watershed

Qinghong Ran, Brian D. Badgley, Nicholas Dillon, Gary M. Dunny, Michael J. Sadowsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


In 2012, the U.S. EPA suggested that coastal and Great Lakes states adopt enterococci as an alternative indicator for the monitoring of recreational water quality. Limited information, however, is available about the presence and persistence of enterococci in Lake Superior. In this study, the density, species composition, and persistence of enterococci in sand, sediment, water, and soil samples were examined at two sites in a Lake Superior watershed from May to September over a 2-year period. The genetic diversity of Enterococcus faecalis isolates collected from environmental samples was also studied by using the horizontal, fluorophore-enhanced repetitive PCR DNA fingerprinting technique. Results obtained by most-probable-number analyses indicated that enterococci were present in 149 (94%) of 159 samples and their densities were generally higher in the summer than in the other months examined. The Enterococcus species composition displayed spatial and temporal changes, with the dominant species being E. hirae, E. faecalis, E. faecium, E. mundtii, and E. casseliflavus. DNA fingerprint analyses indicated that the E. faecalis population in the watershed was genetically diverse and changed spatially and temporally. Moreover, some DNA fingerprints reoccurred over multiple sampling events. Taken together, these results suggest that some enterococci are able to persist and grow in the Lake Superior watershed, especially in soil, for a prolonged time after being introduced.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3067-3075
Number of pages9
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 2013

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