Sewage-exposed marine invertebrates: survival rates and microbiological accumulation

Abstract

A large number of bacteria, including agents responsible for diseases, characterise sewage-polluted seawaters. Apart from standards for bathing waters and bivalve aquaculture waters, there are no general microbiological standards applicable to seawaters to help decide if bacterial pollution is within acceptable ranges. This study represents an attempt towards the issue of comparing the susceptibility of different marine invertebrates subjected to polluted seawater with a high microbial contamination. We explored the survival rates and the microbiological accumulation of mollusc bivalves, echinoderms and crustaceans species exposed to sewage-polluted seawaters. Microbiological analyses were performed on the polluted seawater and on the homogenates of exposed and unexposed specimens. Culturable bacteria (22 °C and 37 °C) and microbial pollution indicators (total coliforms, Escherichia coli and intestinal enterococci) were measured. When exposed to the sewage-polluted seawater, the examined invertebrates showed different survival rates. In the filter feeders, bacterial densities at 22 °C and 37 °C rose after 96 h of exposure to sewage. The highest concentrations of total coliforms and intestinal enterococci were found in exposed bivalve Mytilus galloprovincialis. The concentrations of bacteria growing at 37 °C were lower in the exposed deposit feeders compared to the polluted seawater. Some yeasts were absent in several exposed species although these yeasts were present in the polluted seawater. Our data suggest that the examined filter feeders, given their capability to survive and accumulate bacteria, may counteract the effects of sewage and restore seawater quality.

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Correspondence to Loredana Stabili.

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Stabili, L., Terlizzi, A. & Cavallo, R.A. Sewage-exposed marine invertebrates: survival rates and microbiological accumulation. Environ Sci Pollut Res 20, 1606–1616 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-012-1103-x

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Keywords

  • Sewage pollution
  • Microbial pollution indicators
  • Yeasts
  • Deposit feeders
  • Filter feeders
  • Bioremediation