Chironomus larvae as potential indicators of coliforms and other pathogenic bacteria in fresh water bodies.

Jeremy Nelson Syiem, Jane Shangpliang, Herbert G. Lyngdoh


Water pollution could be due to physical, chemical or biological pollutants contaminating the water. One of the main biological contaminants of water is bacteria. Water-borne bacterial pathogens like Escherichia coli, Salmonella, Shigella, Aeromonas and Vibrio act as indicators of water pollution. The Dipteran insect Chironomus spends part of its life as a water dwelling larva and is found buried or on the surface of sediment on the floor of a water body. These insects are well known indicators of organic pollution in water. Their association with bacteria like coliforms and other pathogens as mentioned earlier shows that they share a mutualistic relationship. Bacteria like Vibrio cholera, Salmonella and other pathogens are present throughout the life stages of the insect either on their surface or in their gut which provides a suitable environment for their survival. Coliforms have also been detected in the larval gut using the Most Probable Number (MPN) test. Other pathogenic bacterial species like Aeromonas and Shigella have also been identified among the gut microbiome using their 16S rRNA sequence data. This implicates the potentiality of the Chironomus larva to be considered as a bioindicator of the presence of such pathogens in water.

Keywords: Dipteran, biological contaminants, water-borne, Most Probable Number test, gut microbiome, bioindicator


Chironomid; coliform; bioindicator; biological pollutant

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