2005 Volume 51 Issue 6 Pages 361-368
The changes in composition and structure of fecal coliforms (FC) and enterococci (ENT) populations, as well as the elimination of spores of sulphite-reducing bacteria (SRB), were compared between municipal sewage and their derived sludge in a biological treatment plant in order to determine any selective reduction or adsorption to sludge during the treatment process. Additionally, the persistence of antibiotic-resistant enterococcal populations in two kinds of sludge was also considered to evaluate their potential elimination in the treatment process. Microbial indicators, vancomycin-resistant and erythromycin-resistant enterococci were enumerated. The structure and composition of FC and ENT populations were determined by biochemical fingerprinting and clustering analyses. Raw and treated sewage showed a concentration of FC 1 log unit higher than ENT and nearly 2 log units higher than spores of SRB. However, the three studied indicators showed similar concentrations in both types of sludge. Consequently, FC were eliminated in higher proportion than ENT and spores of SRB in sludge. FC and ENT populations showed high diversity and similarity population indexes for all kinds of samples. Antibiotic-resistant enterococci persisted in a similar proportion in respect to total enterococci not only in treated sewage but also in sludge. The persistence of antibiotic-resistant strains in sludge as well as in treated sewage should be considered if they are used for land disposal or for water reutilization, respectively.