Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2020NJ023B

Well water microbiome and its relation to nontuberculous mycobacteria in New Jersey

Institute: New Jersey
Year Established: 2020 Start Date: 2020-02-23 End Date: 2021-02-21
Total Federal Funds: $5,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $10,001

Principal Investigators: Sophia Blanc

Abstract: The incidence of nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) disease is expected to increase over time, costing money and lives. It is therefore of interest to better understand the environmental conditions allowing NTM to proliferate. NTM have been identified in water and biofilms at various points throughout drinking water distribution systems, both those conveying water from surface and groundwater sources. Relatively little is known about the microbiome that exists in premise plumbing served by private wells and how that relates to the presence of NTM. This work builds upon results obtained with biofilm samples from premise plumbing in homes across the NJ physiologic provinces. Preliminary data shows that mycobacteria are present in many home biofilms across the state. The objectives of this study are to (O1) compare the diversity of the total microbial communities in biofilm samples which do or do not contain mycobacteria (O2) to determine if there are microbial community members that serve as biomarkers of the presence/absence of mycobacteria in private well water biofilms. This will be achieved by comparing 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequence results of samples with and without mycobacteria. Additionally, sequences will be analyzed to identify genetic biomarkers associated with NTM. 18S rRNA gene qPCR will also be employed to identify the presence/absence of Acanthamoeba, which will be assessed for correlation to mycobacteria presence. Microbiome data will be statistically assessed in relation to plumbing system characteristics collected via the survey. The results of the study are expected to inform mitigation options for NTM in private well systems.