Microbial contamination survey of environmental fresh and saltwater resources of upolu island, Samoa

Michael A. Ochsenkühn, Cong Fei, Odmaa Bayaara, Emarosa Romeo, Patila Amosa, Youssef Idaghdour, Gary Goldstein, Timothy G. Bromage, Shady Amin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Analysis of microbe diversity in freshwater resources and nearshore seawater samples of Upolu Island was performed to investigate the distribution of harmful bacteria. For this, 124 samples were collected from 23 river systems, two volcanic lakes, and 45 locations inside and outside the barrier reef of Upolu Island, Samoa. Physicochemical parameters for general water quality, detection of coliform bacteria and 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing were performed on all samples. Fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) testing indicated a wide distribution of coliform bacteria in all sampled freshwater sites with evidence of fecal coliform in most locations. Importantly, evidence of coliform bacteria was found in most seawater samples inside and along the reef, apart from those samples taken ~20 km offshore. Illumina 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing of the V4 hypervariable region confirmed the presence of various types of harmful bacterial species, namely from the Enterobacteriaceae, Enterococcae, Streptococcaceae, and Vibrionacea families. By combining the sensitivity of FIB testing and next-generation sequencing, we were able to show the extent of potential contaminations in fresh and seawater samples and simultaneously identify the potential pathogenic bacterial genera present. The wide distribution of potential harmful bacteria from river runoff or direct sewage dumping has an impact on human health, leading to many skin and intestinal diseases, and is potentially detrimental to coral reef community health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number112
JournalEnvironments - MDPI
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • Biosecurity
  • Coral reefs
  • Diversity
  • Fecal
  • Freshwater
  • Microbes
  • Saltwater
  • Samoa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Environmental Science


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