To assess the host specificity of Enterocytozoon bieneusi and to track the sources of E. bieneusi contamination, we genotyped E. bieneusi in wildlife and stormwater from the watershed of New York City's source water, using ribosomal internal transcribed spacer (ITS)-based PCR and sequence analyses. A total of 255 specimens from 23 species of wild mammals and 67 samples from stormwater were analyzed. Seventy-four (29.0%) of the wildlife specimens and 39 (58.2%) of the stormwater samples from streams were PCR positive. Altogether, 20 E. bieneusi genotypes were found, including 8 known genotypes and 12 new ones. Sixteen and five of the genotypes were seen in animals and stormwater from the watershed, respectively, with WL4 being the most common genotype in both animals (35 samples) and stormwater (23 samples). The 20 E. bieneusi genotypes belonged to five genogroups (groups 1, 3, 4, and 7 and an outlier), with only 23/113 (20.4%) E. bieneusi-positive samples belonging to zoonotic genogroup 1 and 3/20 genotypes ever being detected in humans. The two genogroups previously considered host specific, groups 3 and 4, were both detected in multiple groups of mammals. Thus, with the exception of the type IV, Peru11, and D genotypes, which were detected in only 7, 5, and 2 animals, respectively, most E. bieneusi strains in most wildlife samples and all stormwater samples in the watershed had no known public health significance, as these types have not previously been detected in humans. The role of different species of wild mammals in the contribution of E. bieneusi contamination in stormwater was supported by determinations of host-adapted Cryptosporidium species/genotypes in the same water samples. Data from this study indicate that the host specificity of E. bieneusi group 3 is broader than originally thought, and wildlife is the main source of E. bieneusi in stormwater in the watershed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
- Food Science