Coliphages as Indicators for the Microbial Quality of Treated Wastewater Effluents

Abidelfatah Nasser, Sivan sasi, Yeshayahu Nitzan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Wastewater effluents are a reliable water source for non-potable water reuse including unrestricted crop irrigation in arid regions suffering from water scarcity. This study was performed to develop and optimize a procedure to concentrate coliphages from 100 L of treated effluent. Moreover, the reduction of coliphages by filtration and disinfection by either chlorine or UV was compared with that of fecal coliform (FC). The adsorption efficiency of MS2 and Qβ coliphages by the NanoCeram filter was similar and reached 99.8%. Elution efficiency of MS2 coliphage from the NanoCeram filters by a solution of 1% NaPP and 0.05 M glycine, pH 9.5, was 74 ± 9.5%. The highest reconcentration efficiency of MS2 and Qβ coliphages was obtained with polyethylene glycol (PEG) precipitation and reached 76 ± 28% and 90 ± 11%, respectively. In comparison, the reconcentration efficiency of organic flocculation was 0% and 1.3% for Qβ and MS2 coliphages, respectively. The overall recovery efficiency of MS2 coliphages from 100 L tertiary effluent was 57 ± 1.5%. Poor reduction was observed for coliphages compared to FC by filtration and chlorine disinfection although; the reduction of FC, as measured by cultivation, was satisfactory and within the guidelines for unrestricted irrigation. High correlation between the reduction of FC and coliphages was recorded for tertiary effluent disinfected by UV irradiation. Monitoring the microbial quality of tertiary effluent using qPCR for the enumeration of FC was found unsuitable, because DNA levels were unaffected by the treatment processes. The results of this study demonstrated that monitoring the microbial quality of tertiary effluent by FC may not reflect the health risks encountered by the application of these effluents and the addition of coliphages to the monitoring programs may allow for accurate assessment of the health risks introduced by the application of tertiary effluent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-178
Number of pages9
JournalFood and Environmental Virology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC part of Springer Nature.


  • Coliphages
  • Fecal coliform
  • Microbial indicators
  • Wastewater
  • Water reuse


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