Insights into effects of algae on decay and distribution of bacterial pathogens in recreational water: Implications for microbial risk management

Qijia Cui , Tingting Fang , Zuotao Zhang , Hui Wang , Matt Rogers


Received December 19, 2020,Revised , Accepted May 24, 2021, Available online June 21, 2021

Volume 34,2022,Pages 92-103

The decay and distribution of bacterial pathogens in water is an important information for the health risk assessment to guide water safety management, and suspended algae might affect bacterial pathogens in water. This study established microcosms to investigate the effects of algae-related factors on the representative indicators and opportunistic pathogen species in water. We found that suspended algae increased the persistence of targeted species by 1-2 orders of magnitude of concentrations compared to microcosms without algae; and the effect of algae on microbial survival was affected by water nutrient levels (i.e., carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus), as the increased microbial persistence were correlated to the increased algae concentrations with more nutrient supplies. Moreover, decay and distribution profiles of representative species were determined. The three opportunistic pathogen species (Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Aeromonas hydrophila and Staphylococcus aureus) showed lower decay rates (0.82–0.98/day, 0.76–0.98/day, 0.63–0.87/day) largely affected by algae-related factors, while the enteric species (Escherichia coli and Enterococcus faecalis) had higher decay rates (0.94–1.31/day, 0.89–1.21/day) with little association with algae, indicating the propensity for attachment to algae is an important parameter in microbial fate. Together results suggest suspended algae played an evident role in the decay and distribution of bacterial pathogens, providing important implications regarding microbial safety in recreational water.

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