Multi-drug resistant coliform: Water sanitary standards and health hazards

Meerambika Mishra, Ananta P. Arukha, Amiya K. Patel, Niranjan Behera, Tapan K. Mohanta, Dhananjay Yadav

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Water constitutes and sustains life; however, its pollution afflicts its necessity, further worsening its scarcity. Coliform is one of the largest groups of bacteria evident in fecally polluted water, a major public health concern. Coliform thrive as commensals in the gut of warm-blooded animals, and are indefinitely passed through their feces into the environment. They are also called as model organisms as their presence is indicative of the prevalence of other potential pathogens, thus coliform are and unanimously employed as adept indicators of fecal pollution. As only a limited accessible source of fresh water is available on the planet, its contamination severely affects its usability. Coliform densities vary geographically and seasonally which leads to the lack of universally uniform regulatory guidelines regarding water potability often leads to ineffective detection of these model organisms and the misinterpretation of water quality status. Remedial measures such as disinfection, reducing the nutrient concentration or re-population doesn't hold context in huge lotic ecosystems such as freshwater rivers. There is also an escalating concern regarding the prevalence of multi-drug resistance in coliforms which renders antibiotic therapy incompetent. Antimicrobials are increasingly used in household, clinical, veterinary, animal husbandry and agricultural settings. Sub-optimal concentrations of these antimicrobials are unintentionally but regularly dispensed into the environment through seepages, sewages or runoffs from clinical or agricultural settings substantially adding to the ever-increasing pool of antibiotic resistance genes. When present below their minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC), these antimicrobials trigger the transfer of antibiotic-resistant genes that the coliform readily assimilate and further propagate to pathogens, the severity of which is evidenced by the high Multiple Antibiotic Resistance (MAR) index shown by the bacterial isolates procured from the environmental. This review attempts to assiduously anthologize the use of coliforms as water quality standards, their existent methods of detection and the issue of arising multi-drug resistance in them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number311
JournalFrontiers in Pharmacology
Issue numberJUN
StatePublished - Jun 12 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Mishra, Arukha, Patel, Behera, Mohanta and Yadav.


  • Coliform
  • E. coli
  • Fecal pollution
  • Gut microflora
  • Indicator bacteria
  • MAR index
  • Multi-drug resistance


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