Comparable levels of microbial contamination in soil and on tomato crops after drip irrigation with treated wastewater or potable water

Ezra Orlofsky, Nirit Bernstein, Mollie Sacks, Ahuva Vonshak, Maya Benami, Arti Kundu, Michael Maki, Woutrina A Smith, Stefan Wuertz, Karen Shapiro, Osnat Gillor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

To evaluate the impact of treated wastewater (TWW) irrigation for produce safety, field experiments were conducted to compare secondary and tertiary TWW with potable water using tomatoes as a model crop. Human pathogens including a suite of obligate and opportunistic bacterial pathogens (Campylobacter, Pseudomonas, Salmonella, Shigella, Staphylococcus), protozoa (Cryptosporidium and Giardia), and viruses (Adenovirus and Enterovirus) were monitored in two field trials using a combination of microscopic, cultivation-based, and molecular (qPCR) techniques. Results indicate that microbial contamination on the surface of tomatoes was not associated with the source of irrigation waters; fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) contamination was not statistically different on tomatoes irrigated with TWW or potable water. In fact, indicator bacteria testing did not predict the presence of pathogens in any of the matrices tested. Indicator bacteria and the opportunistic pathogens were detected in water, soil and on tomato surfaces from all irrigation treatment schemes, and were positively correlated with duration of time in the field (p

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)140-150
Number of pages11
JournalAgriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
Volume215
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

Keywords

  • Drip irrigation
  • Indicators
  • Pathogens
  • Potable water
  • Tomato
  • Treated wastewater

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Ecology

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