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The effect of storage time on Vibrio spp. and fecal indicator bacteria in an Isco autosampler

Ghazaleh, Maite N., Froelich, Brett A., Noble, Rachel T.
Journal of microbiological methods 2014 v.104 pp. 109-116
Enterococcus, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, Vibrio vulnificus, adverse effects, automation, bacteria, brackish water, ecosystems, estuaries, floods, hurricanes, indicator species, microfiltration, monitoring, pathogens, public health, researchers, risk, samplers, storage time
Monitoring concentrations of bacterial pathogens and indicators of fecal contamination in coastal and estuarine ecosystems is critical to reduce adverse effects to public health. During storm events, particularly hurricanes, floods, Nor'easters, and tropical cyclones, sampling of coastal and estuarine waters is not generally possible due to safety concerns. It is particularly important to monitor waters during these periods as it is at precisely these times that pathogenic bacteria such as Vibrio spp. and fecal indicator bacteria concentrations fluctuate, potentially posing significant risks to public health. Automated samplers, such as the Isco sampler, are commonly used to conduct remote sample collection. Remote sampling is employed during severe storm periods, thereby reducing risk to researchers. Water samples are then stored until conditions are safe enough to retrieve them, typically in less than 21h, to collect the samples. Concerns exist regarding potential "bottle effects", whereby containment of sample might result in altered results. While these effects are well documented in samples being held for 24h or more, there is little data on bottle effects occurring during the first 24h of containment, and less still on the specific effects related to this type of sampling regime. Estuarine water samples were collected in the fall of 2013, placed into an Isco autosampler and subsampled over time to determine the effects of storage within this type of autosampling device. Vibrio spp. and fecal indicator bacteria were quantified using replicated culture-based methods, including Enterolertâ„¢ and membrane filtration. The experiments demonstrated no significant impact of storage time when comparing concentrations of total Vibrio spp., Vibrio vulnificus, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, or Enterococcus spp. after storage compared to original concentrations. However, the findings also suggested that increased variability and growth can occur during the middle of the day. Therefore, if at all possible, analysis schedules should be modified to account for this variability, e.g. collection of samples after overnight storage should occur as early in the morning as practicable.