Department of Genetics, Microbiology and Statistics, University of Barcelona, Avinguda Diagonal, 643, 08028, Barcelona, Spain; The Institute of Water Research, C/ Montalegre, 6, 08001, Barcelona, Spain. Electronic address: [Email]
Natural mineral waters contain indigenous bacteria characteristic of each spring source. Once bottled, these communities change over time until the water is consumed. Bottle material is believed to play a major role in the succession of these populations, but very few studies to date have evaluated the effect of this material on bacterial communities. In this study, we examined the microbial community structure of three natural mineral waters over 3 months after bottling in glass and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles. To this end, we used culture-dependent (heterotrophic plate count) and culture-independent methods (16S rRNA massive gene sequencing, denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) and fluorescent microscopy with vital dyes). Total and viable cell counts increased by around 1-2 log10 units between 1 and 2 weeks after bottling and then remained constant over 3 months for all waters regardless of the bottle material. DGGE fingerprints and 16S rRNA massive sequencing analysis both indicated that different communities were established in the waters two weeks after bottling in the different bottle materials. In conclusion, no differences in total, viable and culturable bacteria counts were observed between mineral waters bottled with PET or glass during shelf life storage. Nevertheless, in spite of changes in the communities, each water brand and material presented a distinct microbial community structure clearly distinguishable from the others, which could be interesting for traceability purposes.