Ex situ study of Enterococcus faecalis survival in the recreational waters of the southern coast of the Caspian Sea

Background and Objectives: The US Environmental Protection Agency has suggested faecal enterococci as the primary bacterial indicators. Of more importance is their direct correlation with swimmer-associated gastroenteritis in recreation water quality monitoring. In contrast to other seawater bodies with 3.5% salinity, the recreational waters in the southern coast of the Caspian Sea possess its own salinity (about 1% w/v) and thus require further investigations to determine the capacity of Enterococcus faecalis as the sole primary microbial index in this unique aquatic environment.

Materials and Methods: The survey of the presence and survival of E. faecalis as a microbial index in the recreational waters of the southern Caspian Sea was carried out using a microcosm as an experimental model. The concentration of E. faecalis cells in samples of seawater were estimated by a standard membrane filtration method using m-Enterococcus agar as the selective culture medium. As the current standard culture-based methods are not reliable enough for the detection of non-growing, damaged and under-tension bacteria, PCR was used to identify the possible VBNC form of the bacterium after disappearance of the culturable cells.

Results and Conclusion: A continuous decline in the number of culturable E. faecalis cells resulted in apparent elimination of the bacteria from seawater in a defined period. Detection of intact DNA was possible in the following 60 days. The salinity of about 1% and the self-purification properties of the Caspian Sea make the conditions feasible for the use of this microorganism as a measure of water quality throughout the region. The results confirmed the presence of damaged bacterial cells, namely VBNC forms, indicating the necessity of examining of the sea water samples by using molecular approaches or repair procedures.

Irankhah S., Soudi M. R. & Gharavi S., 2016. Ex situ study of Enterococcus faecalis survival in the recreational waters of the southern coast of the Caspian Sea. Iranian Journal of Microbiology 8(2):101-107. Article.


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