Drinking water safety is increasingly perceived as one of the top global environmental issues. Plankton has been commonly used as a bioindicator for water quality in lakes and reservoirs. Recently, DNA sequencing technology has been applied to bioassessment. In this study, we compared the effectiveness of the 16S and 18S rRNA high throughput sequencing method (HTS) and the traditional optical microscopy method (TOM) in the bioassessment of drinking water quality. Five stations reflecting different habitats and hydrological conditions in Danjiangkou Reservoir, one of the largest drinking water reservoirs in Asia, were sampled May 2016. Non-metric multi-dimensional scaling (NMDS) analysis showed that plankton assemblages varied among the stations and the spatial patterns revealed by the two methods were consistent. The correlation between TOM and HTS in a symmetric Procrustes analysis was 0.61, revealing overall good concordance between the two methods. Procrustes analysis also showed that site-specific differences between the two methods varied among the stations. Station Heijizui (H), a site heavily influenced by two tributaries, had the largest difference while station Qushou (Q), a confluence site close to the outlet dam, had the smallest difference between the two methods. Our results show that DNA sequencing has the potential to provide consistent identification of taxa, and reliable bioassessment in a long-term biomonitoring and assessment program for drinking water reservoirs.
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