Samples collected from water accumulated in leaf axilae of bromeliads (epiphytic flora) in a tropical rain forest were found to harbor fecal coliforms. Random identification of fecal coliform-positive isolates demonstrated the presence of Escherichia coli. This bacterium was also isolated from bromeliad leaf surfaces. These data indicate that E. coli may be part of the phyllosphere microflora and not simply a transient bacterium of this habitat. The isolation of fecal coliforms from these sites was unexpected and raises questions as to the validity of using fecal coliforms as indicators of biological water quality in the tropics
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