The potential of lipopolysaccharide as a real-time biomarker of bacterial contamination in marine bathing water

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

The use of total lipopolysaccharide (LPS) as a rapid biomarker for bacterial pollution was investigated at a bathing and surfing beach during the UK bathing season. The levels of faecal indicator bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli), the Gram-positive enterococci, and organisms commonly associated with faecal material, such as total coliforms and Bacteroides, were culturally monitored over four months to include a period of heavy rainfall and concomitant pollution. Endotoxin measurement was performed using a kinetic Limulus Amebocyte Lysate (LAL) assay and found to correlate well with all indicators. Levels of LPS in excess of 50 Endotoxin Units (EU) mL−1 were found to correlate with water that was unsuitable for bathing under the current European regulations. Increases in total LPS, mainly from Gram-negative indicator bacteria, are thus a potential real-time, qualitative method for testing bacterial quality of bathing waters.

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