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Ecoli in open environments

June 3, 2017

The family of Enterobacteriaceae includes Ecoli and Salmonella. The two species resemble each other in many ways. Salmonella just has more genome complexity.

ScienceEcoli

The data from various studies proves E. coli can persist in wet environments. Beach sand, aquatic plant life, stormwater channel dirt and vegetation, etc., etc.

Keep in mind Ecoli lives INSIDE of a host, a human, waterfowl, mammals. The temperature is fairly constant, along with moisture and other variables.  When feces makes it into the stormwater – via combined sewer overflows – it all changes a great deal.

Why focus on Ecoli – because some types of it are very harmful to humans. One particular pathogenic type ( E. coli O157:H7 ) , is a verotoxigenic (VTEC),  causing worldwide mortality.  More than 150 types of verotoxin-producing E. coli have been found.

Ecoli likes it wet, moist, damp, the exact situation involving Open Stormwater Channels. Some E. coli strains produce filaments that extend from the cell surface and help cells to attach to plant surfaces. Specifically, E. coli may access roots or leaf surfaces by splashing during rainfall or high strong Open Stormwater Channel flow.

Growth and survival of E. coli in open environments, strictly involves the availability of nutrients – provided by sewage overflow events. If these events are back-to-back, frequent strong thunderstorms, then the Open Stormwater Channels remain wet, and full of nutrients. E. coli strains often show a high degree of flexibility, giving them an advantage in the secondary habitats – such as soil and water.

E. coli can enter a ‘dormant’  state.   This can be triggered when the Ecoli cells feel stressed, perhaps when it gets to Starvation Mode. Scientists are still studying this mode. E. coli populations under complex natural conditions are not accurately predictable .

The conditions for survival of E. coli in sand/soil, feces and water are considered to be less favourable –  than in the intestinal system of their original hosts – humans, waterfowl, etc.  There is PLENTY of real world, actual outside, research to be done.

 

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