Shotgun metagenomic sequencing reveals freshwater beach sands as reservoir of bacterial pathogens
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Recreational waters and adjacent beach sands harbor complex microbial communities which may contain human pathogens that cannot be detected by conventional methods. Here, we investigate the diversity of bacterial populations inhabiting four freshwater beaches of the Great Lakes region using shotgun metagenomic sequencing approach. Our analysis suggests that average taxonomic richness and alpha diversity are significantly higher (P < 0.001) in beach sands compared to the corresponding water environments. Compared to the water environments, beach sands harbored taxa from a more diverse range of phyla, including a higher proportion of sequences from unclassified phyla. Unique phyla were also identified in sand which included species from Aquificae, Candidatus Microgenomates, Latescibacteria, and Candidatus Aminicenantes. Sequences originating from pathogens were detected in both sand and water, with some pathogens enriched in both environments. Both lakes exhibited similar community composition suggesting that geographic location did not appear to have any major impact on bacterial diversity. These findings reveal the diversity of bacterial communities of freshwater beaches and highlight the importance of monitoring pathogens in recreational beaches, especially in the sand environment of these beaches.
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