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Water Res. 2010 May;44(9):2753-62. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2010.02.011. Epub 2010 Feb 13.

Survival of manure-borne E. coli in streambed sediment: effects of temperature and sediment properties.

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USDA-ARS Environmental Microbial and Food Safety Laboratory, BARC-EAST, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 10300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD 20705, USA.


Escherichia coli bacteria are commonly used as indicator organisms to designate of impaired surface waters and to guide the design of management practices to prevent fecal contamination of water. Stream sediments are known to serve as a reservoir and potential source of fecal bacteria (E. coli) for stream water. In agricultural watersheds, substantial numbers of E. coli may reach surface waters, and subsequently be deposited into sediments, along with fecal material in runoff from land-applied manures, grazing lands, or wildlife excreta. The objectives of this work were (a) to test the hypothesis that E. coli survival in streambed sediment in the presence of manure material will be affected by sediment texture and organic carbon content and (b) to evaluate applicability of the exponential die-off equation to the E. coli survival data in the presence of manure material. Experiments were conducted at three temperatures (4 degrees C, 14 degrees C, and 24 degrees C) in flow-through chambers using sediment from three locations at the Beaverdam Creek Tributary in Beltsville, Maryland mixed with dairy manure slurry in the proportion of 1000:1. Indigenous E. coli populations in sediments ranged from ca. 10(1) to 10(3)MPNg(-1) while approx 10(3) manure-borne E. coli MPNg(-1) were added. E. coli survived in sediments much longer than in the overlaying water. The exponential inactivation model gave an excellent approximation of data after 6-16 days from the beginning of the experiment. Slower inactivation was observed with the increase in organic carbon content in sediments with identical granulometric composition. The increase in the content of fine particles and organic carbon in sediments led not only to the slower inactivation but also to lower sensitivity of the inactivation to temperature. Streambed sediment properties have to be documented to better evaluate the role of sediments as reservoirs of E. coli that can affect microbiological stream water quality during high flow events.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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