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Silvia Cervero-Arago
Silvia Cervero-Arago, PhD

Center for Pathophysiology, Infectiology and Immunology (Institute for Hygiene and Applied Immunology)
Position: Research Associate (Postdoc)

T +43 1 40160 33057

Further Information


Amoeba; Cryptosporidium; Disinfection; Legionella; Microbial Interactions; Water Microbiology

Research group(s)

  • Water Hygiene

Research interests

My main research interest is the ecology of health relevant microorganisms.

The unit of Water Hygiene, headed by Regina Sommer deals with the quality of drinking water and drinking water resources, with water in health care facilities and for medical applications, with bathing water and surface water as well as wastewater in relation to human health. The prevention of water associated diseases can only be successful when aquatic systems are viewed in a holistic and ecologic manner. To meet these requirements, the Interuniversity Cooperation Centre for Water and Health was founded recently, together with partners from the Vienna University of Technology (ICC Water & Health).

The major research topics in which I’ve been involved include the ecology of pathogenic microorganisms, especially bacteria of the genera Legionella and Campylobacter as well as protozoa such as free-living amoeba, Cryptosporidium spp. and Giardia spp. During my PhD I focused my research on how microbial interactions, specifically the interaction between Legionella-free-living amoebae, and how these interactions influence the effectiveness of drinking water disinfectants. Nowadays I’m still working on this topic; however I’ve broadened my research interest to other waterborne pathogens mentioned above. 

Techniques, methods & infrastructure

In order to study the ecology of health relevant microorganisms several methods have been used including culture based methods as well as molecular methods. The molecular methods used include PCR, qPCR, in-situ PCR, Fluorescent in-situ hybridization (FISH), CARD-FISH, several staining techniques, Immunomagnetic separation protocols and basic flow cytometry. Furthermore, I’ve also worked performing infectivity assays using free-living amoeba and cell culture (THP1 cells) as hosts. 

Selected publications

  1. Cervero-Arago, S. et al., 2015. Effect of Common Drinking Water Disinfectants, Chlorine and Heat, on Free Legionella and Amoebae-Associated Legionella A. C. Singer, ed. PLoS ONE, 10(8), p.e0134726. Available at:
  2. Cervero-Arago, S., Sommer, R. & Araujo, R.M., 2014. Effect of UV irradiation (253.7'
  3. Stevenson, M.E. et al., 2015. Biotin- and Glycoprotein-Coated Microspheres as Surrogates for Studying Filtration Removal of Cryptosporidium parvum in a Granular Limestone Aquifer Medium C. R. Lovell, ed. Appl. Environ. Microbiol., 81(13), pp.4277-4283. Available at:
  4. Cervero-Arago, S. et al., 2013. Effect of thermal treatment on free-living amoeba inactivation. Journal of Applied Microbiology, 116(3), pp.728-736. Available at:
  5. Rodriguez-Martinez, S. et al., 2013. Multilocus sequence typing of Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli strains isolated from environmental waters in the Mediterranean area. Environmental Research, 127, pp.56-62. Available at: