Profiling the diversity of Cryptosporidium species and genotypes in wastewater treatment plants in Australia using next generation sequencing

Alireza Zahedi, Alexander W. Gofton, Telleasha Greay, Paul Monis, Charlotte Oskam, Andrew Ball, Andrew Bath, Andrew Watkinson, Ian Robertson, Una Ryan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Wastewater recycling is an increasingly popular option in worldwide to reduce pressure on water supplies due to population growth and climate change. Cryptosporidium spp. are among the most common parasites found in wastewater and understanding the prevalence of human-infectious species is essential for accurate quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) and cost-effective management of wastewater. The present study conducted next generation sequencing (NGS) to determine the prevalence and diversity of Cryptosporidium species in 730 raw influent samples from 25 Australian wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) across three states: New South Wales (NSW), Queensland (QLD) and Western Australia (WA), between 2014 and 2015. All samples were screened for the presence of Cryptosporidium at the 18S rRNA (18S) locus using quantitative PCR (qPCR), oocyst numbers were determined directly from the qPCR data using DNA standards calibrated by droplet digital PCR, and positives were characterized using NGS of 18S amplicons. Positives were also screened using C. parvum and C. hominis specific qPCRs. The overall Cryptosporidium prevalence was 11.4% (83/730): 14.3% (3/21) in NSW; 10.8% (51/470) in QLD; and 12.1% (29/239) in WA. A total of 17 Cryptosporidium species and six genotypes were detected by NGS. In NSW, C. hominis and Cryptosporidium rat genotype III were the most prevalent species (9.5% each). In QLD, C. galli, C. muris and C. parvum were the three most prevalent species (7.7%, 5.7%, and 4.5%, respectively), while in WA, C. meleagridis was the most prevalent species (6.3%). The oocyst load/Litre ranged from 70 to 18,055 oocysts/L (overall mean of 3426 oocysts/L: 4746 oocysts/L in NSW; 3578 oocysts/L in QLD; and 3292 oocysts/L in WA). NGS-based profiling demonstrated that Cryptosporidium is prevalent in the raw influent across Australia and revealed a large diversity of Cryptosporidium species and genotypes, which indicates the potential contribution of livestock, wildlife and birds to wastewater contamination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)635-648
Number of pages14
JournalScience of The Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Cryptosporidium
  • Influent
  • Next generation sequencing (NGS)
  • Wastewater


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