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The Importance of Sewage Archiving in Coronavirus Epidemiology and Beyond

Cite this: Environ. Sci. Technol. 2020, 54, 13, 7740–7741
Publication Date (Web):June 18, 2020
https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.0c02972
Copyright © 2020 American Chemical Society
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This article is made available via the ACS COVID-19 subset for unrestricted RESEARCH re-use and analyses in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for the duration of the World Health Organization (WHO) declaration of COVID-19 as a global pandemic.

The presence and detection of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in sewage promises to be a sensitive tool to monitor the circulation of the virus in the population. (1,2) Researchers around the globe are currently optimizing and testing the protocols and methodology involved for sewage surveillance. (3,4) Their first and foremost aim is to develop a robust system which can detect and warn of a resurgence of cases earlier than clinical diagnostic tests. (2−4)

As activities in this area of research accelerate, it is opportune to consider the urgency and importance of storing and archiving sewage and wastewater samples. (5,6) Archived samples may be instrumental in answering research questions unforeseen at the time of sampling, so the immediate preservation of sewage samples for subsequent studies is crucial. For example, phylogenetic analysis of sequences recovered from sewage to infer viral ancestry is on the horizon, (7) and archived sewage samples may well be vital to trace the spread of the virus retrospectively. As posited by Cary and Fierer (5) analytical techniques available for data generation tend to become more sensitive over time, and the techniques to detect SARS-CoV-2 in sewage appear to be a case in point. (1−4,7)

In Switzerland, EAWAG has a collection of samples from the time of the SARS-CoV-2 eruption in the country early in 2020, stored at −20 °C for later analysis. (4) It seems conceivable that even more comprehensive collections are in storage elsewhere globally, both in the water industry and academia. There is currently a trend to sequence the microbial communities in wastewater treatment systems worldwide, and the associated sewage samples underlying these endeavors may well prove valuable in new and unexpected ways. (8,9)

The precedent is already there: previously archived historical samples have been used in ways not foreseen at the time of sampling, to shed new light on the development and spread of antibiotic resistance genes in soils. (6,10,11) Thus, store your historical sewage samples and keep them available for reanalysis to retrospectively track and trace the causative agent of COVID-19.

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References

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This article references 11 other publications.

  1. 1
    Lodder, W.; de Roda Husman, A. M. SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater: potential health risk, but also data source. Lancet Gastroenterol. Hepatol. 2020, 5, 533534,  DOI: 10.1016/S2468-1253(20)30087-X
  2. 2
    Medema, G.; Heijnen, L.; Elsinga, G.; Italiaander, R.; Brouwer, A. Presence of SARS-Coronavirus-2 in sewage. 2020, medRxiv2020.03.29.20045880. medRxiv.org e-Print archive.  DOI: 10.1101/2020.03.29.20045880 .
  3. 3
    Kitajima, M.; Ahmed, W.; Bibby, K.; Carducci, A.; Gerba, C. P.; Hamilton, K. A.; Haramoto, E.; Rose, J. B. SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater: State of the knowledge and research needs. Sci. Total Environ. 2020, in press. 139076 DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.139076 .
  4. 4
    Bryner, A. Tracking the course of the pandemic in wastewater. EAWAG News, April 30, 2020. https://www.eawag.ch/en/news-agenda/news-portal/news-archive/archive-detail/tracking-the-course-of-the-pandemic-in-wastewater/.
  5. 5
    Cary, S. C.; Fierer, N. The importance of sample archiving in microbial ecology. Nat. Rev. Microbiol. 2014, 12, 789790,  DOI: 10.1038/nrmicro3382
  6. 6
    Dolfing, J.; Feng, Y. The importance of soil archives for microbial ecology. Nat. Rev. Microbiol. 2015, 13 (3) 1 DOI: 10.1038/nrmicro3382-c1 .
  7. 7
    Nemudryi, A.; Nemudraia, A.; Surya, K.; Wiegand, T.; Buyukyoruk, M.; Wilkinson, R.; Wiedenheft, B. Temporal detection and phylogenetic assessment of SARS-CoV-2 in municipal wastewater. medRxiv2020.04.15.20066746. medRxiv.org Eprint archive.  DOI: 10.1101/2020.04.15.20066746 .
  8. 8
    Wu, L.; Ning, D.; Zhang, B.; Li, Y.; Zhang, P.; Shan, X.; Zhang, Q.; Brown, M. R.; Li, Z.; Van Nostrand, J. D.; Ling, F.; Xiao, N.; Zhang, Y.; Wells, G. F.; Yang, Y.; Deng, Y.; Tu, Q.; Wang, A.; Global Water Microbiome Consortium; Zhang, T.; He, Z.; Keller, J.; Nielsen, P. H.; Alvarez, P. J. J.; Criddle, C. S.; Wagner, M.; Tiedje, J. M.; He, Q.; Curtis, T. P.; Stahl, D. A.; Alvarez-Cohen, L.; Rittmann, B. E.; Wen, X.; Zhou, J. Global diversity and biogeography of bacterial communities in wastewater treatment plants. Nature Microbiol. 2019, 4, 11831195,  DOI: 10.1038/s41564-019-0426-5
  9. 9
    Ju, F.; Zhang, T. Bacterial assembly and temporal dynamics in activated sludge of a full-scale municipal wastewater treatment plant. ISME J. 2015, 9, 683695,  DOI: 10.1038/ismej.2014.162
  10. 10
    Knapp, C. W.; Dolfing, J.; Ehlert, P. A.; Graham, D. W. Evidence of increasing antibiotic resistance gene abundances in archived soils since 1940. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2010, 44, 580587,  DOI: 10.1021/es901221x
  11. 11
    Graham, D. W.; Knapp, C. W.; Christensen, B. T.; McCluskey, S.; Dolfing, J. Appearance of β-lactam resistance genes in agricultural soils and clinical isolates over the 20th century. Sci. Rep. 6, 21550;  DOI: 10.1038/srep21550 .

Cited By

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This article is cited by 3 publications.

  1. Ihsanullah Ihsanullah, Muhammad Bilal, Mu. Naushad. Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in water environments: Current status, challenges and research opportunities. Journal of Water Process Engineering 2021, 39 , 101735. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jwpe.2020.101735
  2. PEDRO H. MAINARDI, EDERIO D. BIDOIA. Challenges and emerging perspectives of an international SARS-CoV-2 epidemiological surveillance in wastewater. Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciências 2021, 93 (suppl 4) https://doi.org/10.1590/0001-3765202120210163
  3. Alain Lesimple, Saad Y. Jasim, Daniel J. Johnson, Nidal Hilal. The role of wastewater treatment plants as tools for SARS-CoV-2 early detection and removal. Journal of Water Process Engineering 2020, 38 , 101544. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jwpe.2020.101544
  • This publication has no figures.
  • References

    ARTICLE SECTIONS
    Jump To

    This article references 11 other publications.

    1. 1
      Lodder, W.; de Roda Husman, A. M. SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater: potential health risk, but also data source. Lancet Gastroenterol. Hepatol. 2020, 5, 533534,  DOI: 10.1016/S2468-1253(20)30087-X
    2. 2
      Medema, G.; Heijnen, L.; Elsinga, G.; Italiaander, R.; Brouwer, A. Presence of SARS-Coronavirus-2 in sewage. 2020, medRxiv2020.03.29.20045880. medRxiv.org e-Print archive.  DOI: 10.1101/2020.03.29.20045880 .
    3. 3
      Kitajima, M.; Ahmed, W.; Bibby, K.; Carducci, A.; Gerba, C. P.; Hamilton, K. A.; Haramoto, E.; Rose, J. B. SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater: State of the knowledge and research needs. Sci. Total Environ. 2020, in press. 139076 DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.139076 .
    4. 4
      Bryner, A. Tracking the course of the pandemic in wastewater. EAWAG News, April 30, 2020. https://www.eawag.ch/en/news-agenda/news-portal/news-archive/archive-detail/tracking-the-course-of-the-pandemic-in-wastewater/.
    5. 5
      Cary, S. C.; Fierer, N. The importance of sample archiving in microbial ecology. Nat. Rev. Microbiol. 2014, 12, 789790,  DOI: 10.1038/nrmicro3382
    6. 6
      Dolfing, J.; Feng, Y. The importance of soil archives for microbial ecology. Nat. Rev. Microbiol. 2015, 13 (3) 1 DOI: 10.1038/nrmicro3382-c1 .
    7. 7
      Nemudryi, A.; Nemudraia, A.; Surya, K.; Wiegand, T.; Buyukyoruk, M.; Wilkinson, R.; Wiedenheft, B. Temporal detection and phylogenetic assessment of SARS-CoV-2 in municipal wastewater. medRxiv2020.04.15.20066746. medRxiv.org Eprint archive.  DOI: 10.1101/2020.04.15.20066746 .
    8. 8
      Wu, L.; Ning, D.; Zhang, B.; Li, Y.; Zhang, P.; Shan, X.; Zhang, Q.; Brown, M. R.; Li, Z.; Van Nostrand, J. D.; Ling, F.; Xiao, N.; Zhang, Y.; Wells, G. F.; Yang, Y.; Deng, Y.; Tu, Q.; Wang, A.; Global Water Microbiome Consortium; Zhang, T.; He, Z.; Keller, J.; Nielsen, P. H.; Alvarez, P. J. J.; Criddle, C. S.; Wagner, M.; Tiedje, J. M.; He, Q.; Curtis, T. P.; Stahl, D. A.; Alvarez-Cohen, L.; Rittmann, B. E.; Wen, X.; Zhou, J. Global diversity and biogeography of bacterial communities in wastewater treatment plants. Nature Microbiol. 2019, 4, 11831195,  DOI: 10.1038/s41564-019-0426-5
    9. 9
      Ju, F.; Zhang, T. Bacterial assembly and temporal dynamics in activated sludge of a full-scale municipal wastewater treatment plant. ISME J. 2015, 9, 683695,  DOI: 10.1038/ismej.2014.162
    10. 10
      Knapp, C. W.; Dolfing, J.; Ehlert, P. A.; Graham, D. W. Evidence of increasing antibiotic resistance gene abundances in archived soils since 1940. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2010, 44, 580587,  DOI: 10.1021/es901221x
    11. 11
      Graham, D. W.; Knapp, C. W.; Christensen, B. T.; McCluskey, S.; Dolfing, J. Appearance of β-lactam resistance genes in agricultural soils and clinical isolates over the 20th century. Sci. Rep. 6, 21550;  DOI: 10.1038/srep21550 .

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