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Aquatic Microbial Ecology

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AME 53:141-149 (2008)  -  DOI:

Trends in total Vibrio spp. and Vibrio vulnificus concentrations in the eutrophic Neuse River Estuary, North Carolina, during storm events

Jennifer J. Wetz1, A. Denene Blackwood1, J. Stephen Fries2, Zachary F. Williams3, Rachel T. Noble1,*

1Institute of Marine Science, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, 3431 Arendell Street, Morehead City, North Carolina 28557, USA
2United States Environmental Protection Agency, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20005, USA
3University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599, USA

ABSTRACT: Vibrio spp. are ubiquitous members of aquatic microbial food webs that can be pathogenic to humans and a range of other organisms. Previously published predictive models for Vibrio spp. concentrations in estuarine and coastal waters, based only on salinity and temperature, are 70 to 75% accurate during ‘normal’ conditions (e.g. not during storms or drought). We have conducted a preliminary comparison of the output from this type of model to the natural concentrations of both total Vibrio spp. and the potentially pathogenic Vibrio vulnificus when measured during tropical storms. Water samples were collected in situ from a deployed platform in the Neuse River Estuary (NRE), North Carolina, USA, during 2 storm events: Hurricane Ophelia and Tropical Storm Ernesto. Total Vibrio spp. concentrations were measured using culture-based methods and V. vulnificus levels were determined using a newly developed, rapid quantitative polymerase chain reaction (QPCR) assay. Results were analyzed in relation to environmental parameters and to concentrations of the fecal indicator bacteria Escherichia coli (EC) and Enterococcus spp. (ENT). Total concentrations of Vibrio spp. in the NRE were often orders of magnitude higher than those predicted by a previously published model. These large deviations from model predictions may indicate contributions from storm forcing (e.g. resuspension, surges) that are missing from the calm weather observations used to build these models.

KEY WORDS: Vibrio spp. · Vibrio vulnificus · Storm events · Sediment resuspension · Neuse River Estuary · Water-born pathogens · Quantitative polymerase chain reaction · QPCR

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Cite this article as: Wetz JJ, Blackwood AD, Fries JS, Williams ZF, Noble RT (2008) Trends in total Vibrio spp. and Vibrio vulnificus concentrations in the eutrophic Neuse River Estuary, North Carolina, during storm events. Aquat Microb Ecol 53:141-149.

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