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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.
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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: 2009-01-01

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  • Water Environment Research (WER) is published monthly, including an annual Literature Review. A subscription to WER includes access to the latest content back to 1992, as well as access to fast track articles. An individual subscription is valid for 12 months from month of purchase.

    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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