Seaweeds and plastic debris can influence the survival of faecal indicator organisms in beach environments

The revised Bathing Water Directive (rBWD) introduces more stringent standards for microbial water quality and promotes more pro-active management of the beach environment through the production of a bathing water profile (BWP). The aim of this study was to determine whether living seaweeds in the littoral zone are colonised by faecal indicator organisms (FIOs), and to quantify the survival dynamics of waterborne Escherichia coil in microcosms containing senescing seaweeds. Living seaweed (Fucus spiralis) was not associated with FIO colonisation, although could be providing a protected environment in the underlying sand. Senescing seaweeds enhanced waterborne E. coil survival compared to plastic debris, with the brown seaweed Laminaria saccharina facilitating greater E. colt persistence than either Chondrus crispus or Ulva lactuca. This has important implications for FIO survival on bathing beaches as the majority of beach-cast biomass is composed of brown seaweeds, which could support significant levels of FIOs.

Quilliam, Richard S., Jamieson, Julie, Oliver, David M., Marine Pollution Bulletin, Vol. 82 (1-2), pages 201-207, July 2014

The article

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