Ecology of cycloheximide-resistant fungi in field soils receiving raw city wastewater or normal irrigation water

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Abstract

The effect of raw city wastewater irrigation on biodiversity and population densities of a cycloheximide-resistant (CH) fungal community was studied in 13 field soils receiving either raw city wastewater or normal irrigation, and in raw city wastewater in the Nablus area, using the hair baiting technique (HBT) and a surface soil dilution plating (SSDP) technique. Three of these fields [one had been receiving raw city wastewater for more than ten years and was designated a heavily polluted field, and the other 2 were cultivated for the first time and were either irrigated with raw city wastewater (newly polluted field) or normal irrigation water (nonpolluted)], were sampled 4–7 times over a 9-month period. The other ten fields, which had been under raw city wastewater irrigation for more than 10 years, were sampled only once. Fifty-seven CH-resistant species belonging to 18 genera were recovered, of which 49 species were recovered from soil habitats and 28 species from raw city wastewater. The HBT had shown to be more efficient in the isolation of pathogenic and potentially pathogenic fungi including dermatophytes. A higher percentage of this group of fungi was recovered from the three main field soils studied using HBT (70% of all isolates), than the SSDP (35.5%); no dermatophytes were recovered by the SSDP method. Two dermatophytes (Microsporum gypseum, and Trichophyton ajelloi), and five more fungi (Arthroderma cuniculi, A. curreyi, Chrysosporium keratinophilum, C. tropicum, and C. pannorum), were recovered from these habitats. Wastewater irrigation seemed to have affected the fungal population densities, with the highest population densities being found in the heavily polluted field soil, while lower population densities were found in the nonpolluted field soil. Increases in organic matter were also observed as a result of sewage effluent irrigation. However, basic similarities in the biodiversity of CH-resistant fungal communities existed in nonpolluted and polluted field soils, and raw city wastewater. Comparable numbers of fungal species were recovered from the three main field soils. The species most commonly found in those habitats included: Alternaria alternata, Aspergillus candidus, Geotrichum candidum, and Paecilomyces lilacinus. Field soils receiving either raw city wastewater or normal irrigation water, were found to be rich in pathogenic and potentially pathogenic CH-resistant fungi, including dermatophytes, with raw city wastewater yielding the highest percentage (81%), followed by the newly wastewater irrigated field (77.7%), the nonpolluted field (67%), and the heavily polluted field (63.4%). Hygienic measures should therefore be taken to control the spread of these fungi in the environment of human communities, and to avoid mycotic infections among farmers.

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