Highly heterogeneous temporal dynamics in the abundance and diversity of the emerging pathogens Arcobacter at an urban beach.

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Journal Article
Water research, 2020, 171
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While the significance of Arcobacter in clinical settings grows, the ecological dynamics of potentially pathogenic Arcobacter in coastal marine environments remains unclear. In this study, we monitored the temporal dynamics of Arcobacter at an urban beach subject to significant stormwater input and wet weather sewer overflows (WWSO). Weekly monitoring of bacterial communities over 24 months using 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing revealed large, intermittent peaks in the relative abundance of Arcobacter. Quantitative PCR was subsequently employed to track absolute abundance of Arcobacter 23S rRNA gene copies, revealing peaks in abundance reaching up to 108 gene copies L-1, with these increases statistically correlated with stormwater and WWSO intrusion. Notably, peaks in Arcobacter abundance were poorly correlated with enterococci plate counts, and remained elevated for one week following heavy rainfall. Using oligotyping we discriminated single nucleotide variants (SNVs) within the Arcobacter population, revealing 10 distinct clusters of SNVs that we defined as Arcobacter "ecotypes", with each displaying distinct temporal dynamics. The most abundant ecotype during stormwater and modelled WWSO events displayed 16S rRNA sequence similarity to A. cryaerophilius, a species previously implicated in human illness. Our findings highlight the diverse environmental drivers of Arcobacter abundance within coastal settings and point to a potentially important, yet overlooked exposure risk of these potential pathogens to humans.
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