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A short review of fecal indicator bacteria in tropical aquatic ecosystems: knowledge gaps and future directions

Abstract : Given the high numbers of deaths and the debilitating nature of diseases caused by the use of unclean water it is imperative that we have an understanding of the factors that control the dispersion of water borne pathogens and their respective indicators. This is all the more important in developing countries where significant proportions of the population often have little or no access to clean drinking water supplies. Moreover, and notwithstanding the importance of these bacteria in terms of public health, at present little work exists on the persistence, transfer and proliferation of these pathogens and their respective indicator organisms e.g. fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) such as Escherichia coli and fecal coliforms in humid tropical systems, such as are found in South East Asia or in the tropical regions of Africa. Both FIB and the waterborne pathogens they are supposed to indicate are particularly susceptible to shifts in water flow and quality and the predicted increases in rainfall and floods due to climate change will only exacerbate the problems of contamination. This will be furthermore compounded by the increasing urbanization and agricultural intensification that developing regions are experiencing. Therefore, recognizing and understanding the link between human activities, natural process and microbial functioning and their ultimate impacts on human health are prerequisites for reducing the risks to the exposed populations. Most of the existing work in tropical systems has been based on the application of temperate indicator organisms, models and mechanisms regardless of their applicability or appropriateness for tropical environments. Here we present a short review on the factors that control FIB dynamics in temperate systems and discuss their applicability to tropical environments. We then highlight some of the knowledge gaps in order to stimulate future research in this field in the tropics.
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Emma Rochelle Newall, Thi Mai Huong Nguyen, Quynh Le Thi Phuong, Oloth Sengtaheuanghoung, Olivier Ribolzi. A short review of fecal indicator bacteria in tropical aquatic ecosystems: knowledge gaps and future directions. Frontiers in Microbiology, Frontiers Media, 2015, 6, ⟨10.3389/fmicb.2015.00308⟩. ⟨hal-02634612⟩

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