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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1994 Jul;60(7):2272-7.

Effect of distance from the polluting focus on relative concentrations of Bacteroides fragilis phages and coliphages in mussels.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, University of Barcelona, Spain.


Concentrations of fecal bacteria, somatic and F-specific coliphages, and phages infecting Bacteroides fragilis in naturally occurring black mussels (Mytilus edulis) were determined. Mussels were collected over a 7-month period at four sampling sites with different levels of fecal pollution. Concentrations of both fecal bacteria and bacteriophages in mussel meat paralleled the concentration of fecal bacteria in the overlying waters. Mussels bioaccumulated efficiently, although with different efficiencies, all of the microorganisms studied. Ratios comparing the levels of microorganisms in mussels were determined. These ratios changed in mussels collected at the different sites. They suggest that bacteriophages infecting B. fragilis and somatic coliphages have the lowest decay rates among the microorganisms studied, with the exception of Clostridium perfringens. On the contrary, concentrations of F-specific coliphages showed a greater rate of decay than the other bacteriophages at sites more distant from the focus of contamination. Additionally, levels of enteroviruses were studied in a number of samples, and in these samples, the B. fragilis bacteriophages clearly outnumbered the enteroviruses. The results of this study indicate that, under the environmental conditions studied, the fate of phages infecting B. fragilis released into the marine environment resembles that of human viruses more than any other microorganism examined.

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