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      Biological Stability of Drinking Water: Controlling Factors, Methods, and Challenges

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          Biological stability of drinking water refers to the concept of providing consumers with drinking water of same microbial quality at the tap as produced at the water treatment facility. However, uncontrolled growth of bacteria can occur during distribution in water mains and premise plumbing, and can lead to hygienic (e.g., development of opportunistic pathogens), aesthetic (e.g., deterioration of taste, odor, color) or operational (e.g., fouling or biocorrosion of pipes) problems. Drinking water contains diverse microorganisms competing for limited available nutrients for growth. Bacterial growth and interactions are regulated by factors, such as (i) type and concentration of available organic and inorganic nutrients, (ii) type and concentration of residual disinfectant, (iii) presence of predators, such as protozoa and invertebrates, (iv) environmental conditions, such as water temperature, and (v) spatial location of microorganisms (bulk water, sediment, or biofilm). Water treatment and distribution conditions in water mains and premise plumbing affect each of these factors and shape bacterial community characteristics (abundance, composition, viability) in distribution systems. Improved understanding of bacterial interactions in distribution systems and of environmental conditions impact is needed for better control of bacterial communities during drinking water production and distribution. This article reviews (i) existing knowledge on biological stability controlling factors and (ii) how these factors are affected by drinking water production and distribution conditions. In addition, (iii) the concept of biological stability is discussed in light of experience with well-established and new analytical methods, enabling high throughput analysis and in-depth characterization of bacterial communities in drinking water. We discussed, how knowledge gained from novel techniques will improve design and monitoring of water treatment and distribution systems in order to maintain good drinking water microbial quality up to consumer’s tap. A new definition and methodological approach for biological stability is proposed.

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          Most cited references 165

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          Measurement of in situ activities of nonphotosynthetic microorganisms in aquatic and terrestrial habitats.

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            Initial community evenness favours functionality under selective stress.

            Owing to the present global biodiversity crisis, the biodiversity-stability relationship and the effect of biodiversity on ecosystem functioning have become major topics in ecology. Biodiversity is a complex term that includes taxonomic, functional, spatial and temporal aspects of organismic diversity, with species richness (the number of species) and evenness (the relative abundance of species) considered among the most important measures. With few exceptions (see, for example, ref. 6), the majority of studies of biodiversity-functioning and biodiversity-stability theory have predominantly examined richness. Here we show, using microbial microcosms, that initial community evenness is a key factor in preserving the functional stability of an ecosystem. Using experimental manipulations of both richness and initial evenness in microcosms with denitrifying bacterial communities, we found that the stability of the net ecosystem denitrification in the face of salinity stress was strongly influenced by the initial evenness of the community. Therefore, when communities are highly uneven, or there is extreme dominance by one or a few species, their functioning is less resistant to environmental stress. Further unravelling how evenness influences ecosystem processes in natural and humanized environments constitutes a major future conceptual challenge.
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              The viable but nonculturable state in bacteria.

              It had long been assumed that a bacterial cell was dead when it was no longer able to grow on routine culture media. We now know that this assumption is simplistic, and that there are many situations where a cell loses culturability but remains viable and potentially able to regrow. This mini-review defines what the "viable but nonculturable" (VBNC) state is, and illustrates the methods that can be used to show that a bacterial cell is in this physiological state. The diverse environmental factors which induce this state, and the variety of bacteria which have been shown to enter into the VBNC state, are listed. In recent years, a great amount of research has revealed what occurs in cells as they enter and exist in this state, and these studies are also detailed. The ability of cells to resuscitate from the VBNC state and return to an actively metabolizing and culturable form is described, as well as the ability of these cells to retain virulence. Finally, the question of why cells become nonculturable is addressed. It is hoped that this mini-review will encourage researchers to consider this survival state in their studies as an alternative to the conclusion that a lack of culturability indicates the cells they are examining are dead.

                Author and article information

                Front Microbiol
                Front Microbiol
                Front. Microbiol.
                Frontiers in Microbiology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                01 February 2016
                : 7
                1Environmental Biotechnology Group, Department of Biotechnology, Faculty of Applied Sciences, Delft University of Technology Delft, Netherlands
                2Department of Environmental Microbiology, Eawag – Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology Dübendorf, Switzerland
                3Division of Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering, Water Desalination and Reuse Center, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology Thuwal, Saudi Arabia
                4Wetsus – European Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Water Technology Leeuwarden, Netherlands
                Author notes

                Edited by: Jean-christophe Augustin, Ecole Nationale Vétérinaire d’Alfort, France

                Reviewed by: Louis Coroller, Université de Bretagne Occidentale, France; Zhao Chen, Clemson University, USA

                This article was submitted to Food Microbiology, a section of the journal Frontiers in Microbiology

                Copyright © 2016 Prest, Hammes, van Loosdrecht and Vrouwenvelder.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 5, Tables: 1, Equations: 0, References: 218, Pages: 24, Words: 0
                Funded by: Global Collaborative Research, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology 10.13039/501100003422


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