Impact of roadside ditch dredging on bacterial communities and biological contamination of a tidal creek

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Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science


Tidal creek networks form the primary hydrologic link between estuaries and land-based activities on barrier islands. A possible impact from the excavation of drainage ditch systems on bacterial communities and biological contamination was studied in the water column and sediments of headwater, mid-stream, and mouth sites of the intertidal Oakdale Creek on Sapelo Island, GA. Community analysis was performed using the MiSeq Illumina platform and revealed that dredging was the cause of a significant rise in Proteobacteria, especially γ-proteobacteria. Targeted biological contaminants included fecal indicator bacteria, Enterococcus spp. (Entero-1), pathogens, Shigella spp. (ipaH), and Salmonella spp (invA), virulence associated genes (VG's) of pathogenic E. coli (eaeA, hlyD, stx1, stx2, and set1B), integrons (intI1, intI2), and tetracycline resistance genes (TRGs). Incidence and gene concentrations of Shigella spp., eaeA and set1B, and of TRGs increased 3–20 folds after the onset of dredging, and followed the dredging schedule. Principal Component Analysis suggested possible common carriers for Shigella spp., some TRGs, and the pathogenic E. coli eaeA gene. At the site of dredging, all of the above contaminants were detected at high concentrations. We concluded that excavation of roadside ditches caused significant changes in bacterial composition and a rise in incidence and concentrations of biological contaminants in the creek. The authors suggest a different approach for the maintenance of this material be explored.


Biological and Environmental Sciences

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