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Anaerobes and methanogens dominate the microbial communities in water harvesting ponds used by Kenyan rural smallholder farmers.

Gregson, Benjamin H and Bani, Alessia and Steinfield, Laurel and Holt, Diane and Whitby, Corinne (2022) 'Anaerobes and methanogens dominate the microbial communities in water harvesting ponds used by Kenyan rural smallholder farmers.' Science of the Total Environment, 819. p. 153040. ISSN 0048-9697

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Many rural smallholder farmers in Kenya use water-harvesting ponds, to collect rainwater, as sustainable sources of water for domestic and agricultural purposes. There is currently limited information regarding the microbial ecology in these ponds. Here, we used High Throughput Sequencing (HTS) to characterize the microorganisms present (including potential pathogens and indicator species) alongside ion chromatography to measure water chemistry (anion and cation concentration). Fluoride and magnesium concentration were the strongest predictor variables of the microbial community. Obligately or facultatively anaerobic bacterial genera (e.g. Spirochaeta and Opitutus) were abundant within the bacterial community, whilst Woesearchaeota and methanogens dominated the archaeal community. This suggests the water in the ponds is hypoxic or anoxic, and if used for irrigation, may potentially impact crop yield and viability. In addition, the opportunistic pathogen non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM), Mycobacterium fortuitum was found, comprising >1% of the bacterial community, suggesting a potential human health risk. Here we suggest low-cost changes to pond management, to improve or ameliorate pond anoxia and remove pathogens to benefit the livelihoods and welfare of these farms. This study also shows the applicability of HTS to broadly screen the microbial communities, assess water quality, and identify potentially pathogenic groups.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Water harvesting; Microbial ecology; High Throughput Sequencing; Pathogens; Microbial quality; Chemical quality; Amplicon
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health
Faculty of Science and Health > Life Sciences, School of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 20 May 2022 15:00
Last Modified: 20 May 2022 15:00

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