Water, Air, and Soil Pollution

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 349–362 | Cite as

Fecal coliform and E. coli estimates, tip of the iceberg

  • B. J. Dutka
  • S. Kuchma
  • K. K. Kwan


Pure cultures of E. coli, Klebsiella and Enterobacter, obtained from hospital patients and from natural waters were tested for their growth patterns by spread plate and membrane filtration procedures at the following temperatures; 35°, 41.5°, 43°, 44.5°, and 35°C for 4 h followed by 18 h at 44.5°C. Results indicated that 44.5°C incubation produces the lowest population estimate and that the application of the membrane filtration technique also reduced the potential population.

Three water samples collected during June, August and November were tested for fecal coliform and E. coli populations, with 11 different media (broth and agar) and incubation temperatures of 35°, 41.5°, 43°, 44.5°, and 35°C for 4 h followed by 18 h at 44.5°C. During the study, isolates were collected from all positive MPN tubes at each temperature and from each MF medium-temperature regime, 24 to 50 isolates were collected. From the isolate data corrected coliform (oxidase negative), fecal coliform and E. coli population estimates were made.

A sample of feces was diluted in lake water and maintained at 20°C for 56 days. Samples were collected at various times and tested for fecal coliform densities using five media and the same temperature regime as for the lake water samples.

Data from these studies indicate that, depending on the age of the population being measured, the temperature of the water sample, and the temperature-media-procedure combination used, fecal coliform and E. coli population estimate techniques measure from 5 to 100% of the potential population.


Water Sample Lake Water Membrane Filtration Pure Culture Incubation Temperature 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Co 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. J. Dutka
    • 1
  • S. Kuchma
    • 1
  • K. K. Kwan
    • 1
  1. 1.Microbiology Laboratories Section, Applied Research DivisionNational Water Research Institute, Canada Centre forInland WatersBurlingtonCanada

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