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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Environmental Microbial & Food Safety Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #342158

Research Project: Design and Implementation of Monitoring and Modeling Methods to Evaluate Microbial Quality of Surface Water Sources Used for Irrigation

Location: Environmental Microbial & Food Safety Laboratory

Title: Effect of phytoplankton on Escherichia coli survival in laboratory microcosms

item Kierzewski, Rachel
item Pachepsky, Yakov
item STOCKER, MATTHEW - Orise Fellow
item HILL, ROBERT - University Of Maryland
item SELLNER, KEVIN - Hood College
item YARWOOD, STEPHANIE - University Of Maryland

Submitted to: Agronomy Society of America, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science Society of America Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/10/2017
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Fecal contamination of water sources is an important water quality issue for agricultural irrigation ponds. Escherichia coli is a common microbial indicator used to evaluate recreational and irrigation water quality. Nuisance algae commonly grow in low- or no-flow irrigation water source The objective of this experiment was to test whether phytoplankton collected from irrigation ponds impacts survival of E. coli in fresh water. Samples of water containing phytoplankton from two irrigation ponds in Maryland were placed in Erlenmeyer flasks and inoculated with cultured E. coli. Flasks were kept at room temperature under full spectrum fluorescent lights with 12 hr light and dark cycles. E. coli concentrations were measured daily for a week. The exponential die-off of E. coli was observed both in absence and in presence of phytoplankton. The survival rates appeared to be statistically different in absence and in presence of phytoplankton. Both pond water source and initial E. coli concentration in the inoculum appeared to be significant survival factors. Results of this work indicate that that site-specic relationships can be developed to characterize the water environment conditions for E. coli survival based on planktonic algae concentrations which in turn can be estimated from chlorophyll a measurements.