Presence and Persistence of Legionella spp. in Groundwater
Journal - Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Groundwater samples (111) from six different boreholes located in two geographical areas were examined for the presence of legionellae over a 7-year period. The number of Legionella isolates detected was generally low. The colonization of the aquifers was not uniform, and the persistence of Legionella was independent of the hydraulic pumps and the plumbing system present in the borehole. A total of 374 isolates identified by fatty acid methyl ester analysis belonged to Legionella pneumophila, L. oakridgensis, L. sainthelensi, and L. londiniensis. In area 1, L. oakridgensis constituted the major population detected, exhibiting only one random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD)-PCR profile. L. sainthelensi strains were less frequently isolated and also displayed a single RAPD profile, while L. pneumophila was only sporadically detected. In contrast, L. pneumophila comprised the vast majority of the isolates in area 2 and exhibited six distinct RAPD patterns, indicating the presence of different genetic groups; three L. londiniensis RAPD types were also detected. Two of the L. pneumophila and one of the L. londiniensis RAPD types were persistent in this environment for at least 12 years. The genetic structure of L. pneumophila groundwater populations, inferred from rpoB and dotA gene sequences, was peculiar, since the majority of the isolates were allied in a discrete group different from the lineages containing most of the type and reference strains of the three subspecies of L. pneumophila. Furthermore, gene exchange events related to the dotA allele could be envisioned.