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Appl Microbiol. 1972 Aug;24(2):168-74.

Enteric bacterial growth rates in river water.


Enteric bacteria, including stocked strains of pathogenic species and organisms naturally present in the stream, were capable of growth in a chemostat with autoclaved river water taken 750 m below a sewage outfall. Maximal specific growth rates for all organisms occurred at 30 C, whereas culture generation times ranged between 33.3 and 116 hr. Of the six laboratory strains of enteric species used, Escherichia coli and Enterobacter aerogenes grew at generation times of 34.5 and 33.3 hr, respectively, while the remaining Proteus, Arizona, Salmonella, and Shigella spp. reproduced at a rate two to three times slower than the coliforms. Little or no growth occurred in the water at incubation temperatures of 20 and 5 C, and death was observed for Salmonella senftenberg at 20 and 5 C and for E. aerogenes and Proteus rettgeri at 5 C. When enteric bacteria naturally present in the river water were employed in similar experiments, coliform bacteria demonstrated a generation time of approximately 116 hr, whereas fecal coliforms failed to grow. Growth of the bacteria from the river demonstrated a periodicity of approximately 100 hr, which suggests that much of the growth of these organisms in the chemostat may be on the glass surfaces. This phenomenon, however, was not observed with any of the stocked enteric species. Neither the stock cultures nor the aquatic strains were capable of growth in autoclaved river water taken above the sewage outfall at the three temperatures tested.

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