Assessing the Groundwater Quality at a Saudi Arabian Agricultural Site and the Occurrence of Opportunistic Pathogens on Irrigated Food Produce

Handle URI:
http://hdl.handle.net/10754/579557
Title:
Assessing the Groundwater Quality at a Saudi Arabian Agricultural Site and the Occurrence of Opportunistic Pathogens on Irrigated Food Produce
Authors:
Alsalah, Dhafer ( 0000-0002-7072-7710 ) ; Aljassim, Nada I. ( 0000-0002-7667-2685 ) ; Timraz, Kenda; Hong, Pei-Ying ( 0000-0002-4474-6600 )
Abstract:
This study examines the groundwater quality in wells situated near agricultural fields in Saudi Arabia. Fruits (e.g., tomato and green pepper) irrigated with groundwater were also assessed for the occurrence of opportunistic pathogens to determine if food safety was compromised by the groundwater. The amount of total nitrogen in most of the groundwater samples exceeded the 15 mg/L permissible limit for agricultural irrigation. Fecal coliforms in densities > 12 MPN/100 mL were detected in three of the groundwater wells that were in close proximity to a chicken farm. These findings, coupled with qPCR-based fecal source tracking, show that groundwater in wells D and E, which were nearest to the chicken farm, had compromised quality. Anthropogenic contamination resulted in a shift in the predominant bacterial phyla within the groundwater microbial communities. For example, there was an elevated presence of Proteobacteria and Cyanobacteria in wells D and E but a lower overall microbial richness in the groundwater perturbed by anthropogenic contamination. In the remaining wells, the genus Acinetobacter was detected at high relative abundance ranging from 1.5% to 48% of the total groundwater microbial community. However, culture-based analysis did not recover any antibiotic-resistant bacteria or opportunistic pathogens from these groundwater samples. In contrast, opportunistic pathogenic Enterococcus faecalis and Pseudomonas aeruginosa were isolated from the fruits irrigated with the groundwater from wells B and F. Although the groundwater was compromised, quantitative microbial risk assessment suggests that the annual risk incurred from accidental consumption of E. faecalis on these fruits was within the acceptable limit of 10−4. However, the annual risk arising from P. aeruginosa was 9.55 × 10−4, slightly above the acceptable limit. Our findings highlight that the groundwater quality at this agricultural site in western Saudi Arabia is not pristine and that better agricultural management practices are needed alongside groundwater treatment strategies to improve food safety.
KAUST Department:
Water Desalination and Reuse Research Center (WDRC); Biological and Environmental Sciences and Engineering (BESE) Division
Citation:
Assessing the Groundwater Quality at a Saudi Arabian Agricultural Site and the Occurrence of Opportunistic Pathogens on Irrigated Food Produce 2015, 12 (10):12391 International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Publisher:
MDPI AG
Journal:
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue Date:
5-Oct-2015
DOI:
10.3390/ijerph121012391
Type:
Article
ISSN:
1660-4601
Additional Links:
http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/12/10/12391/
Appears in Collections:
Articles; Water Desalination and Reuse Research Center (WDRC); Biological and Environmental Sciences and Engineering (BESE) Division

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.contributor.authorAlsalah, Dhaferen
dc.contributor.authorAljassim, Nada I.en
dc.contributor.authorTimraz, Kendaen
dc.contributor.authorHong, Pei-Yingen
dc.date.accessioned2015-10-11T11:01:15Zen
dc.date.available2015-10-11T11:01:15Zen
dc.date.issued2015-10-05en
dc.identifier.citationAssessing the Groundwater Quality at a Saudi Arabian Agricultural Site and the Occurrence of Opportunistic Pathogens on Irrigated Food Produce 2015, 12 (10):12391 International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Healthen
dc.identifier.issn1660-4601en
dc.identifier.doi10.3390/ijerph121012391en
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10754/579557en
dc.description.abstractThis study examines the groundwater quality in wells situated near agricultural fields in Saudi Arabia. Fruits (e.g., tomato and green pepper) irrigated with groundwater were also assessed for the occurrence of opportunistic pathogens to determine if food safety was compromised by the groundwater. The amount of total nitrogen in most of the groundwater samples exceeded the 15 mg/L permissible limit for agricultural irrigation. Fecal coliforms in densities > 12 MPN/100 mL were detected in three of the groundwater wells that were in close proximity to a chicken farm. These findings, coupled with qPCR-based fecal source tracking, show that groundwater in wells D and E, which were nearest to the chicken farm, had compromised quality. Anthropogenic contamination resulted in a shift in the predominant bacterial phyla within the groundwater microbial communities. For example, there was an elevated presence of Proteobacteria and Cyanobacteria in wells D and E but a lower overall microbial richness in the groundwater perturbed by anthropogenic contamination. In the remaining wells, the genus Acinetobacter was detected at high relative abundance ranging from 1.5% to 48% of the total groundwater microbial community. However, culture-based analysis did not recover any antibiotic-resistant bacteria or opportunistic pathogens from these groundwater samples. In contrast, opportunistic pathogenic Enterococcus faecalis and Pseudomonas aeruginosa were isolated from the fruits irrigated with the groundwater from wells B and F. Although the groundwater was compromised, quantitative microbial risk assessment suggests that the annual risk incurred from accidental consumption of E. faecalis on these fruits was within the acceptable limit of 10−4. However, the annual risk arising from P. aeruginosa was 9.55 × 10−4, slightly above the acceptable limit. Our findings highlight that the groundwater quality at this agricultural site in western Saudi Arabia is not pristine and that better agricultural management practices are needed alongside groundwater treatment strategies to improve food safety.en
dc.language.isoenen
dc.publisherMDPI AGen
dc.relation.urlhttp://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/12/10/12391/en
dc.rightsThis is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/en
dc.subjectgroundwateren
dc.subjectfood safetyen
dc.subjecttotal nitrogenen
dc.subjectcoliformsen
dc.subjectquantitative microbial risk assessmenten
dc.titleAssessing the Groundwater Quality at a Saudi Arabian Agricultural Site and the Occurrence of Opportunistic Pathogens on Irrigated Food Produceen
dc.typeArticleen
dc.contributor.departmentWater Desalination and Reuse Research Center (WDRC)en
dc.contributor.departmentBiological and Environmental Sciences and Engineering (BESE) Divisionen
dc.identifier.journalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Healthen
dc.eprint.versionPublisher's Version/PDFen
dc.contributor.affiliationKing Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST)en
kaust.authorAlsalah, Dhaferen
kaust.authorAljassim, Nada I.en
kaust.authorTimraz, Kendaen
kaust.authorHong, Pei Yingen
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