Influence of seawater intrusion on microbial communities in groundwater

Tatsuya Unno, Jungman Kim, Yumi Kim, Son G. Nguyen, Robin B. Guevarra, Gee Pyo Kim, Ji Hoon Lee, Michael J. Sadowsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Groundwater is the sole source of potable water on Jeju Island in the Republic of (South) Korea. Groundwater is also used for irrigation and industrial purposes, and it is severely impacted by seawater intrusion in coastal areas. Consequently, monitoring the intrusion of seawater into groundwater on Jeju is very important for health and environmental reasons. A number of studies have used hydrological models to predict the deterioration of groundwater quality caused by seawater intrusion. However, there is conflicting evidence of intrusion due to complicated environmental influences on groundwater quality. Here we investigated the use of next generation sequencing (NGS)-based microbial community analysis as a way to monitor groundwater quality and detect seawater intrusion. Pristine groundwater, groundwater from three coastal areas, and seawater were compared. Analysis of the distribution of bacterial species clearly indicated that the high and low salinity groundwater differed significantly with respect to microbial composition. While members of the family Parvularculaceae were only identified in high salinity water samples, a greater percentage of the phylum Actinobacteria was predominantly observed in pristine groundwater. In addition, we identified 48 shared operational taxonomic units (OTUs) with seawater, among which the high salinity groundwater sample shared a greater number of bacterial species with seawater (6.7%). In contrast, other groundwater samples shared less than 0.5%. Our results suggest that NGS-based microbial community analysis of groundwater may be a useful tool for monitoring groundwater quality and detect seawater intrusion. This technology may also provide additional insights in understanding hydrological dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)337-343
Number of pages7
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Korea Science and Engineering Foundation (KOSEF) grant funded by the Korea government ( MOST ) (No. 2013R1A1A1008910 ) and CK-I (University for Creative Korea) project under the Ministry of Education .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier B.V.


  • 16S rRNA gene
  • Freshwater quality
  • Microbial community
  • Seawater intrusion


Dive into the research topics of 'Influence of seawater intrusion on microbial communities in groundwater'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this