Microbial Diversity of Source and Point-of-Use Water in Rural Haiti - A Pyrosequencing-Based Metagenomic Survey


Haiti endures the poorest water and sanitation infrastructure in the Western Hemisphere, where waterborne diseases cause significant morbidity and mortality. Most of these diseases are reported to be caused by waterborne pathogens. In this study, we examined the overall bacterial diversity of selected source and point-of-use water from rural areas in Central Plateau, Haiti using pyrosequencing of 16s rRNA genes. Taxonomic composition of water samples revealed an abundance of Firmicutes phyla, followed by Proteobacteria and Bacteroidetes. A total of 38 bacterial families and 60 genera were identified. The presence of several Klebsiella spp. (tentatively, K. pneumoniae, K. variicola and other Klebsiella spp.) was detected in most water samples. Several other human pathogens such as Aeromonas, Bacillus, Clostridium, and Yersinia constituted significantly higher proportion of bacterial communities in the point-of-use water samples compared to source water. Bacterial genera traditionally associated with biofilm formation, such as Chryseobacterium, Fusobacterium, Prevotella, Pseudomonas were found in the point-of-use waters obtained from water filters or domestic water storage containers. Although the pyrosequencing method utilized in this study did not reveal the viability status of these pathogens, the abundance of genetic footprints of the pathogens in water samples indicate the probable risk of bacterial transmission to humans. Therefore, the importance of appropriate handling, purification, and treatment of the source water needed to be clearly communicated to the communities in rural Haiti to ensure the water is safe for their daily use and intake.