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Partitioning and Fate of Particle-Associated E. coli in River Waters

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Attachment of fecal bacteria to suspended matter in the water column has important implications for its fate in rivers. We examined the part of Escherichia coli ( E. coli) associated with suspended matter in natural river water samples, using a combination of 5-μm filtration and β-D-glucuronidase (GLUase) assay to estimate the E. coli abundance and attachment. We observed that the fraction of particle-associated E. coli was positively correlated with suspended matter concentration. The settling rate of particle-associated E. coli was found to be positively correlated with suspended matter concentration for samples with suspended matter content lower than 50 mg/L. For samples with higher suspended matter concentration, the settling rate was quite constant (0.066 m/h, on average). In batch experiments using river waters, we observed that free E. coli had a decay rate approximately 2 times higher than particle-associated E. coli. This information can be used to improve the models on the fate of E. coli in rivers.

Keywords: E. coli; glucuronidase activity; microbiological water quality; rivers; settling rate; suspended matter

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Ecology of Aquatic Systems, Free University of Brussels (ULB), Brussels, Belgium.

Publication date: January 1, 2009

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  • Water Environment Research® (WER®) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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