Pretreatment to reduce somatic salmonella phage interference with FRNA coliphage assays: successful use in a one-year survey of vulnerable groundwaters


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Abstract

R.E. stetler and F.P. Williams JR. 1996. Somatic salmonella (SS) phages were commonly found in higher numbers than F-specific RNA (FRNA) coliphages in a multi-site survey of contamination-vulnerable groundwaters. The relative abundance of SS phages required that a pretreatment procedure be implemented to reduce the SS phage content of samples before FRNA coliphage assay with Salmonella typhimurium WG49. Pretreatment involved selective SS phage removal by Salm. typhimurium WG45 cells. This pretreatment proved effective in producing interference-free samples throughout the one-year survey period and in seeded evaluation, was shown not to affect the detection of representative FRNA coliphage MS2. During the survey, 30 groundwater sites located in the continental United States, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands were examined for FRNA coliphages and SS phages at monthly intervals. FRNA coliphages were detected at six of the 30 sites and in 33 of 329 monthly samples. SS phages were also detected at six sites and in 28 of 329 monthly samples. Five of the phage-positive sites were positive for both phage groups. At those five sites, 58 monthly samples were collected during the survey period. Those 58 samples yielded an average FRNA coliphage concentration of 140 pfu per 100 1 of groundwater as compared to an average SS phage concentration of 565 pfu per 100 1 of groundwater. Twenty of the 58 samples were positive for both FRNA coliphages and SS phages. In those samples, FRNA coliphages were more abundant in five samples; SS phages were more abundant in 15 samples. Because these results demonstrate that SS phage levels may often exceed FRNA coliphage levels in environmental waters, it is clear that SS phage removal procedures will greatly enhance the effectiveness of the WG49-based FRNA coliphage assay.

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