Water, Air, & Soil Pollution

, 230:36 | Cite as

Seasonal Loading and Concentration Patterns for Fecal Bacteroidales qPCR Markers and Relationships to Water Quality Parameters at Baseflow

  • M. A. StallardEmail author
  • S. Winesett
  • M. Scopel
  • M. Bruce
  • F. C. Bailey


Bacteria belonging to the Order Bacteroidales predominate the intestines of warm-blooded animals, and monitoring of these bacteria can indicate fecal pollution impacts to a waterbody. Differences in seasonal concentrations and loadings for Bacteroidales and their relationship with physicochemical water parameters were investigated in temperate, inland streams. Seasonal samples (n = 321) were collected during baseflow in three central Tennessee, USA, watersheds. To estimate total fecal bacteria in receiving streams, general Bacteroidales 16S rRNA gene targets were analyzed by quantitative PCR and reported as concentration and loadings for individual and combined watersheds. In most cases, Bacteroidales marker concentrations were highest during spring/summer and loading values were highest in the spring. Bacteroidales concentrations were positively correlated with temperature and total suspended solids and negatively with dissolved oxygen, while no consistent correlations were found between loadings and abiotic factors. Temperature, total suspended solids, and dissolved oxygen are likely drivers influencing seasonal patterns for Bacteroidales concentrations. Researchers and water quality stakeholders should carefully consider measurement type (concentration versus loading), season, and water quality parameters as elements that could impact results when developing fecal monitoring projects.


Fecal indicator bacteria Bacteroidales qPCR Season Water quality parameters 



This project was funded as a special project by the Metro Water Services, Nashville, TN, USA, and supported by the Middle Tennessee State University Molecular Biosciences PhD Program. Expertise and training on qPCR assays were provided by Dr. Alice Layton and Dan Williams, Center for Biotechnology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, USA.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyMiddle Tennessee State UniversityMurfreesboroUSA
  2. 2.Metro Water ServicesStormwater Division OfficeNashvilleUSA
  3. 3.County of Fairfax, VirginiaDepartment of Public Works & Environmental ServicesLortonUSA
  4. 4.Gobbell Hays PartnersNashvilleUSA

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