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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1984 Dec;48(6):1197-202.

Effect of organic contamination upon microbial distributions and heterotrophic uptake in a Cape Cod, Mass., aquifer.


Bacterial abundance, distribution, and heterotrophic uptake in a freshwater aquifer contaminated by treated sewage were determined from analyses of groundwater and sediment-core samples. The number of free-living (unattached) bacteria in contaminated groundwater declined steadily with increasing distance from the source of sewage infiltration, from 1.94 (+/- 0.20) X 10(6) ml-1 at 0.21 km to 0.25 (+/- 0.02) X 10(6) ml-1 at 0.97 km. Bacterial abundance in groundwater sampled at 0.31 km correlated strongly with specific conductance and increased sharply from 4.0 (+/- 0.3) X 10(4) ml-1 at a depth of 6 m to 1.58 (+/- 0.12) X 10(6) ml-1 at 14 m, then declined at 20 and 31 m to 1.29 (+/- 0.12) X 10(6) and 0.96 (+/- 0.12) X 10(6) ml-1, respectively. A majority of the bacteria in contaminated and uncontaminated zones of the aquifer were bound to the surfaces of particulates, less than 60 micron in diameter. The glucose uptake rate, assayed at in situ and 5 microM concentrations, declined steadily in contaminated groundwater sampled along a transect. A preparative wet-sieving technique for use in processing core samples for bacterial enumeration is described and evaluated.

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