Microbial Quality of Irrigation Water in Serbia: Risks to Food Safety

  • Željka RudićEmail author
  • Igor Kljujev
  • Bojana Vujović
  • Mile Božić
  • Vera Raičević
Part of the Springer Water book series (SPWA)


The human pathogen bacteria can colonize and contaminate fresh vegetables and fruits in any part of production chain. Water for irrigation is recognized as a potential source of pathogens that can cause foodborne illnesses. Water is a very effective vector of the transmission of human pathogen to plants, so microbiologically safe water has a unique role in a safe food production. Due to expected water scarcity, the availability of good-quality water for irrigation will be affected, and irrigated agriculture will be challenged. Therefore, a sufficient resource of quality water for irrigation is crucial for sustainable agricultural production. Generally, in Serbia, all surface water resources (canals and rivers) are polluted to some extent, which becomes obvious particularly during the growing season. Even the quality of shallow groundwater occasionally exhibits the levels of faecal indicator bacteria that exceed the limits proposed by international standards for irrigation water quality. The presence of Escherichia coli, E. coli O157:H7, L. monocytogenes, Salmonella spp. on different kind of fresh vegetables has been confirmed, using different methods, i.e. PCR, green fluorescent protein (Gfp) for transformation bacteria, fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM). This research shows the ability of the human pathogens to surface, and endophytic colonize root, stem and leaf of different vegetables. This chapter deals with the detected water quality of sources used for irrigation in agricultural areas of Serbia, and the potential risks if water of poor quality is used for irrigation.


Irrigation Water quality Plant contamination, Human pathogenic bacteria Health risks 



This research was partially supported by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Serbia, Grant No. TR 37014 and TR 31080.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Željka Rudić
    • 1
    Email author
  • Igor Kljujev
    • 2
  • Bojana Vujović
    • 2
  • Mile Božić
    • 1
  • Vera Raičević
    • 2
  1. 1.Jaroslav Černi Water InstituteBelgradeSerbia
  2. 2.Faculty of Agriculture, Department for Microbial EcologyUniversity of BelgradeZemun-BelgradeSerbia

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