TracerStudies using Bacteriophage to predict the Fate of Viruses

 in the Marine Community: PreliminaryAssessments

ReportNo WSAA 54


April 1993




Thefate of material disposed via ocean outfalls in the marine environment isimportant when determining the effectiveness and efficiency of an ocean outfalland the assimilative capacity of the marine environment, to which, the effluentis discharged.


Althoughroutine monitoring and mathematical modelling can assist in predicting the fateof the disposed material, recently developed culturing and monitoringtechniques for bacteriophage enable tracer studies to be carried out, which cangreatly enhance the field verification of the fate of organisms in the realenvironment.


Thebacteriophage of Serratia marcescens,a phage of Bacillus sphaericusisolated from compost, and two phages of Eschericiacoli were successfully cultured under laboratory conditions. All phage grewwell to a relatively high titre (>109 PFU mL-1), andwere easily counted using overlay techniques on solid media.


Thisresearch has successfully developed suitable methods for using non-pathogenicorganisms similar in size to human enteric viruses, to simulate the fate ofviruses in the marine environment and to track their presence along coastlinebeaches.


Themethods adopted also allow relatively accurate calculations to be made on theinitial dilution of marine outfalls in the surface waters above. Thebacteriophage can also be tracked over a number of days to study the subsequentdilution and dispersion characteristics of the marine receiving waters, withtime.


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