, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 397-412

Environmental Impacts of Diesel Fuel on Bacteria and Phytoplankton in a Tropical Estuary Assessed Using In Situ Mesocosms.

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Abstract

Dissolved or dispersed petroleum hydrocarbon concentrations (DDPH) were monitored in Ponggol estuary, Singapore, fortnightly from July 1999 to June 2000. DDPH concentrations ranged from 4.4 to 248.9 μgl−1 and 0.4 to 1099.7 μgl−1 for surface and subsurface waters, respectively and with mean concentrations of 41.01μgl−1 in the water column. Absorbed or adsorbed petroleum hydrocarbon (AAPH) concentrations measured in sediments ranged from 20.6 to 541.0 mg kg−1, with mean concentrations of 148.23 mg kg−1. In situ mesocosm studies of bacteria and phytoplankton were based on field monitoring of␣environmentally measured concentrations of petroleum hydrocarbons, using diesel fuel as the source of contaminant. The mesocosm comprised of 25 L clear polycarbonate carboys incubated in situ for 6 days. Water and sediments from a clean site with undetectable levels of petroleum hydrocarbons were used in controls. The treatment mesocosms comprised of mean and highest concentrations of DDPH and AAPH. The study revealed signs of acute toxicity to autotrophs viz., phytoplankton and autotrophic bacteria in treatments simulating concentrations of diesel fuel found in the sediments. A stimulatory effect was seen at lower concentrations. Bacterial heterotrophs responded positively to all concentrations of diesel fuel because of the abundance of a carbon source, reduced grazing pressure and reduced competition for nutrients from phytoplankton.