Growth kinetics of coliform bacteria under conditions relevant to drinking water distribution systems
Camper, Anne K.
McFeters, Gordon A.
Characklis, William G.
Jones, Warren L.
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The growth of environmental and clinical coliform bacteria under conditions typical of drinking water distribution systems was examined. Four coliforms (Klebsiella pneumoniae, Escherichia coli, Enterobacter aerogenes, and Enterobacter cloacae) were isolated from an operating drinking water system for study; an enterotoxigenic E. coli strain and clinical isolates of K. pneumoniae and E. coli were also used. All but one of the coliforms tested were capable of growth in unsupplemented mineral salts medium; the environmental isolates had greater specific growth rates than did the clinical isolates. This trend was maintained when the organisms were grown with low levels (<1 mg liter-') of yeast extract. The environmental K. pneumoniae isolate had a greater yield, higher specific growth rates, and a lower Ks value than the other organisms. The environmental E. coli and the enterotoxigenic E. coli strains had comparable yield, growth rate, and Ks values to those of the environmental K. pneumoniae strain, and all three showed significantly more successful growth than the clinical isolates. The environmental coliforms also grew well at low temperatures on low concentrations of yeast extract. Unsupplemented distribution water from the collaborating utility supported the growth of the environmental isolates. Growth of the K. pneumoniae water isolate was stimulated by the addition of autoclaved biofilm but not by tubercle material. These findings indicate that growth of environmental coliforms is possible under the conditions found in operating municipal drinking water systems and that these bacteria could be used in tests to determine assimilable organic carbon in potable water.
Camper, A.K., G.A. McFeters, W.G. Characklis, and W.L. Jones, "Growth kinetics of coliform bacteria under conditions relevant to drinking water distribution systems," Appl. Envir. Microbiol., 57(8):2233-2239 (1991).