The Effect of the 2015 Earthquake on the Bacterial Community Compositions in Water in Nepal

Sital Uprety, Pei-Ying Hong, Nora Sadik, Bipin Dangol, Rameswor Adhikari, Antarpreet Jutla, Joanna L. Shisler, Patrick Degnan, Thanh H. Nguyen

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We conducted a study to examine the effect of seasonal variations and the disruptive effects of the 2015 Nepal earthquake on microbial communities associated with drinking water sources. We first characterized the microbial communities of water samples in two Nepali regions (Kathmandu and Jhapa) to understand the stability of microbial communities in water samples collected in 2014. We analyzed additional water samples from the same sources collected from May to August 2015, allowing the comparison of samples from dry-to-dry season and from dry-to-monsoon seasons. Emphasis was placed on microbes responsible for maintaining the geobiochemical characteristics of water (e.g., ammonia-oxidizing and nitrite-oxidizing bacteria and archaea and sulfate-reducing bacteria) and opportunistic pathogens often found in water (Acinetobacter). When examining samples from Jhapa, we identified that most geobiochemical microbe populations remained similar. When examining samples from Kathmandu, the abundance of microbial genera responsible for maintaining the geobiochemical characteristics of water increased immediately after the earthquake and decreased 8 months later (December 2015). In addition, microbial source tracking was used to monitor human fecal contamination and revealed deteriorated water quality in some specific sampling sites in Kathmandu post-earthquake. This study highlights a disruption of the environmental microbiome after an earthquake and the restoration of these microbial communities as a function of time and sanitation practices.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Issue numberDEC
StatePublished - Dec 6 2017

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