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J Appl Microbiol. 2002;93(5):864-71.

Survival of faecal indicator bacteria in tropical estuarine waters (Bangpakong River, Thailand).

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1
Laboratory of Hydrobiology, Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Porto, Portugal. bordalo@icbas.up.pt

Abstract

AIMS:

To investigate the survival of cultivable bacteria in the tropical Bangpakong estuary (Eastern Thailand) under different salinities and light conditions.

METHODS AND RESULTS:

Dark and light microcosm experiments using membrane diffusion chambers were carried out under three different experimental conditions, namely (i) low salinity, (ii) progressive mixing with brackish water and (iii) fast mixing with high salinity water spiked with raw urban sewage. Faecal coliforms declined faster than faecal enterococci, as shown by survival T90 values ranging from 82.2 +/- 4.2 to 14.5 +/- 0.8 h and 97.5 +/- 0.4-20.6 +/- 1.2 h, respectively. The survival of freshwater heterotrophic bacteria was higher but variable (121.2 +/- 5.0-30.1 +/- 14.3 h), whereas that of heterotrophic marine bacteria was rather stable (81.5 +/- 4.2-44.6 +/- 2.5 h).

CONCLUSIONS:

Overall survival was higher in low salinities. Light had a further deleterious effect, since it accelerated the decay of faecal indicators, particularly in high salinities. Faecal enterococci had a higher resistance to environmental conditions compared with faecal coliforms.

SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY:

This study is relevant to the understanding of the behaviour of different faecal indicator bacteria and the optimization of sewage treatment plants aimed at the reduction and/or elimination of faecal load discharged into estuarine waters submitted to salinity variations.

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