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Temporal and geographical distributions of epilithic sodium dodecyl sulfate-degrading bacteria in a polluted South Wales river.

  • D J Anderson
  • M J Day
  • N J Russell
  • G F White
Publication Date
Feb 01, 1988
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Medicine


Epilithic bacteria were isolated nonselectively from riverbed stones and examined by gel zymography for their ability to produce alkylsulfatase (AS) enzymes and thus to metabolize alkyl sulfate surfactants such as sodium dodecyl sulfate. The percentages of AS+ isolates from stone epilithon at five sites from the source to the river mouth were measured on five sampling days spread over 1 year. The results showed that (i) the prevalence of epilithic AS+ strains (as a percentage of all isolates) was much higher at polluted sites than at the source; (ii) when averaged over the whole river, percentages of AS+ strains were significantly higher at the end of summer compared with either the preceding or the following winter; (iii) analysis of site-sampling time interactions indicated that water quality factors (e.g., biochemical oxygen demand and dissolved oxygen concentration) rather than climatic factors determined the distributions of epilithic AS+ isolates; (iv) constitutive strains were the most prevalent (7.2% of all isolates), with smaller numbers of isolates with inducible (4.5%) and repressible (1.7%) enzymes.

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