Persistence, dissipation, and activity of Escherichia coli O157:H7 within sand and seawater environments

A. Prysor Williams, Lisa M. Avery, Ken Killham, David L. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Citations (Scopus)


Runoff from agricultural land into watercourses may transport and deposit animal-derived waste contaminated with Escherichia coli O157:H7 onto beaches, which may in turn lead to human infection. To simulate contamination, freshwater mixed with cattle slurry containing E. coli O157:H7 was added to sand from three recreational beaches. The sand was then maintained in a dry state (nontidal) or subjected to a repeated seawater tidal simulation. The pathogen could still be recovered from all sands by day 5. Although survival of the pathogen did not statistically vary between sands of different origin under nontidal conditions, significant differences in numbers occurred between sands when subject to tidal simulation. In the tidal simulations, a considerable proportion of the E. coli O157:H7 rapidly dissipated from sand into the seawater. In a separate experiment, the activity of bioluminescent (lux-marked) E. coli O157:H7 cells was monitored in various mixtures of contaminated runoff water and seawater over 5 days. Pathogen activity declined with increasing seawater concentration; however, cells remained viable in all treatments over the 5-day period. The addition of nutrients to water rapidly increased pathogen activity in all treatments. Our findings highlight the resilience of E. coli O157:H7 in aquatic and marine environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-32
Number of pages9
JournalFEMS Microbiology Ecology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2007
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Persistence, dissipation, and activity of Escherichia coli O157:H7 within sand and seawater environments'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this