The green alga, Cladophora, promotes Escherichia coli growth and contamination of recreational waters in Lake Michigan

TitleThe green alga, Cladophora, promotes Escherichia coli growth and contamination of recreational waters in Lake Michigan
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsHeuvel AVanden, McDermott C, Pillsbury R, Sandrin T, Kinzelman J, Ferguson J, Sadowsky M, Byappanahalli M, Whitman R, Kleinheinz GT
JournalJournal of Environment Quality
Volume39
Issue1
Pagination333
Date Published2010
KeywordsWATER QUALITY
Abstract

A linkage between Cladophora mats and exceedances of recreational water quality criteria has been suggested, but not directly studied. Th is study investigates the spatial and temporal association between Escherichia coli concentrations within and near Cladophora mats at two northwestern Lake Michigan beaches in Door County, Wisconsin. Escherichia coli concentrations in water underlying mats were signifi cantly greater than surrounding water (p < 0.001). Below mat E. coli increased as the stranded mats persisted at the beach swash zone. Water adjacent to Cladophora mats had lower E. coli concentrations, but surpassed EPA swimming criteria the majority of sampling days. A signifi cant positive association was found between E. coli concentrations attached to Cladophora and in underlying water (p < 0.001). Th e attached E. coli likely acted as a reservoir for populating water underlying the mat. Fecal bacterial pathogens, however, could not be detected by microbiological culture methods either attached to mat biomass or in underlying water. Removal of Cladophora mats from beach areas may improve aesthetic and microbial water quality at aff ected beaches. Th ese associations and potential natural growth of E. coli in bathing waters call into question the effi cacy of using E. coli as a recreational water quality indicator of fecal contaminations.

DOI10.2134/jeq2009.0152