Phenotypic and Genotypic Characterization of Escherichia coli Isolated from Untreated Surface Waters

Kristopher J Janezic, Blake Ferry, Eric W Hendricks, Brian A Janiga, Tiffany Johnson, Samantha Murphy, Morgan E Roberts, Sarah M Scott, Alexandra N Theisen, Kai F Hung, Steven L Daniel*
Department of Biological Sciences, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, Illinois 61920, USA

Article Metrics

CrossRef Citations:
Total Statistics:

Full-Text HTML Views: 5631
Abstract HTML Views: 2892
PDF Downloads: 1628
Total Views/Downloads: 10151
Unique Statistics:

Full-Text HTML Views: 2684
Abstract HTML Views: 1582
PDF Downloads: 1082
Total Views/Downloads: 5348

Creative Commons License
© Janezic et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Biological Sciences, Eastern Illinois University, 600 Lincoln Avenue, Charleston, Illinois 61920, USA; Tel: (217) 581-7840; Fax: (217) 581-7141; E-mail:


A common member of the intestinal microbiota in humans and animals is Escherichia coli. Based on the presence of virulence factors, E. coli can be potentially pathogenic. The focus of this study was to isolate E. coli from untreated surface waters (37 sites) in Illinois and Missouri and determine phenotypic and genotypic diversity among isolates. Water samples positive for fecal coliforms based on the Colisure® test were streaked directly onto Eosin Methylene Blue (EMB) agar (37°C) or transferred to EC broth (44.5°C). EC broth cultures producing gas were then streaked onto EMB agar. Forty-five isolates were identified as E. coli using API 20E and Enterotube II identification systems, and some phenotypic variation was observed in metabolism and fermentation. Antibiotic susceptibility of each isolate was also determined using the Kirby-Bauer Method. Differential responses to 10 antimicrobial agents were seen with 7, 16, 2, and 9 of the isolates resistant to ampicillin, cephalothin, tetracycline, and triple sulfonamide, respectively. All of the isolates were susceptible or intermediate to amoxicillin, ciprofloxacin, polymyxin B, gentamicin, imipenem, and nalidixic acid. Genotypic variation was assessed through multiplex Polymerase Chain Reaction for four virulence genes (stx1 and stx2 [shiga toxin], eaeA [intimin]; and hlyA [enterohemolysin]) and one housekeeping gene (uidA [β-D-glucuronidase]). Genotypic variation was observed with two of the isolates possessing the virulence gene (eaeA) for intimin. These findings increase our understanding of the diversity of E. coli in the environment which will ultimately help in the assessment of this organism and its role in public health.

Keywords: E. coli, surface water, antibiotics, multiplex PCR, intimin, β-D-glucuronidase.