Phenotypic and phylogenetic identification of coliform bacteria obtained using 12 coliform methods approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Ya Zhang, Pei Ying Hong, Mark W. LeChevallier, Wen Tso Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The current definition of coliform bacteria is method dependent, and when different culture-based methods are used, discrepancies in results can occur and affect the accuracy of identification of true coliforms. This study used an alternative approach to the identification of true coliforms by combining the phenotypic traits of the coliform isolates and the phylogenetic affiliation of 16S rRNA gene sequences with the use of lacZ and uidA genes. A collection of 1,404 isolates detected by 12 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved coliform-testing methods were characterized based on their phylogenetic affiliations and responses to their original isolation media and lauryl tryptose broth, m-Endo, and MI agar media. Isolates were phylogenetically classified into 32 true-coliform, or targeted Enterobacteriaceae (TE), groups and 14 noncoliform, or nontargeted Enterobacteriaceae (NTE), groups. It was shown statistically that detecting true-positive (TP) events is more challenging than detecting true-negative (TN) events. Furthermore, most false-negative (FN) events were associated with four TE groups (i.e., Serratia group I and the Providencia, Proteus, and Morganella groups) and most false-positive (FP) events with two NTE groups, the Aeromonas and Plesiomonas groups. In Escherichia coli testing, 18 out of 145 E. coli isolates identified by enzymatic methods were validated as FN. The reasons behind the FP and FN reactions could be explained through analysis of the lacZ and uidA genes. Overall, combining the analyses of the 16S rRNA, lacZ, and uidA genes with the growth responses of TE and NTE on culture-based media is an effective way to evaluate the performance of coliform detection methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6012-6023
Number of pages12
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Volume81
Issue number17
DOIs
StatePublished - 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Ecology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

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