Human fecal pollution in water constitute a serious risk to the public health, nevertheless the indicator microorganisms commonly used to detect the levels of fecal pollution does not identify the specific source. The detection of certain Bifidobacterium species as B. adolescentis and B. dentium have been proposed as an effective marker of human fecal contamination, but this has not yet been demonstrated in tropical environmental conditions. The aim of the present work was to determine the Bifidobacteria profile in one sample of water from the Mesolandia Swamp in the Colombian Caribbean and feces samples of 260 human and 94 domestic animals from a human settlement around the swamp. DNA from all the samples was amplified by PCR using specific specie primers based on the 16S rRNA gene sequence and separated by DGGE (Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis). DGGE bands were excised, reamplified, sequenced, and compared to GenBank database. Bifidobacterial DGGE profiles showed that eight species of Bifidobacterium that were found in the water sample, were also present in the human and animal feces. Bifidobacterium adolescentis and B. dentium described as potential human fecal pollution indicators were found in domestic animals. In this study under the environmental and experimental conditions evaluated was not possible to find a Bifidobacterium species as specific marker of human fecal contamination in tropical areas. However, the applied method in this study could be useful to detect fecal pollution in tropical waters allowing a nearest approximation to the origin of the fecal pollution compared with cultural traditional methods, since it was possible to find identical DNA sequences in the water and in the fecal samples.

Keywords: water pollution, biomarkers, feces, denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis, Bifidobacterium, polymerase chain reaction