Tracer Studies Using Bacteriophage to Predict the fate of Viruses in the Marine Community: Preliminary Assessments
This report was produced for the Urban Water Research Association of Australia, a now discontinued research program.
Report no. UWRAA 54
The fate of material disposed via ocean outfalls in the marine environment is important when determining the effectiveness and efficiency of an ocean outfall and the assimilative capacity of the marine environment, to which, the effluent is discharged.
Although routine monitoring and mathematical modelling can assist in predicting the fate of the disposed material, recently developed culturing and monitoring techniques for bacteriophage enable tracer studies to be carried out, which can greatly enhance the field verification of the fate of organisms in the real environment.
The bacteriophage of Serratia marcescens, a phage of Bacillus sphaericus isolated from compost, and two phages of Escherichia coli were successfully cultured under laboratory conditions. All phage grew well to a relatively high titre (>109 PFU mL-1), and were easily counted using overlay techniques on solid media.
This research has successfully developed suitable methods for using non-pathogen organisms similar in size to human enteric viruses, to simulate the fate of viruses in the marine environment and to track their presence along coastline beaches.
The methods adopted also allow relatively accurate calculations to be made on the initial dilution of marine outfalls in the surface waters above. The bacteriophage can also be tracked over a number of days to study the subsequent dilution and dispersion characteristics of the marine receiving waters, with time.