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Assessment of Vibrio spp. abundance as a water quality indicator: Insights from Mali Ston Bay in the Adriatic Sea

Purgar, Marija; Gavrilović, Ana; Kapetanović, Damir; Klanjšček, Jasminka; Jug-Dujaković, Jurica; Kolda, Anamarija; Žunić, Jakov; Kazazić, Snježana; Vardić Smrzlić, Irena; Vukić Lušić, Darija; Pikelj, Kristina; Listeš, Eddy; El-Matbouli, Mansour; Lillehaug, Atle; Lončarević, Semir; Knežević, Dražen; Hengl, Brigita; Geček, Sunčana; Klanjscek, Tin (2023) Assessment of Vibrio spp. abundance as a water quality indicator: Insights from Mali Ston Bay in the Adriatic Sea. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 295 (5). p. 108558. ISSN 02727714

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Due to high anthropogenic pressures, science-based coastal management required to ensure the sustainable use of coastal areas highly depends on environmental indicators used for decision-making. In this paper, we argue for the inclusion of Vibrio spp. abundance as a supplemental indicator of water quality for science-based coastal management by examining the environmental and bacterial indicators at a fish farm and a control site in Mali Ston Bay in the Adriatic Sea. Unexpectedly, heterotrophic bacteria, enterococci and Vibrio spp. were more abundant in the cold season, while E. coli and total coliforms, following a more traditional pattern, were more abundant in the warm season. Each of the currently used indicators has a specific purpose: heterotrophic bacteria indicate the presence of both nonpathogenic and pathogenic bacteria, while enterococci are pathogenic bacteria indicating fecal pollution. Vibrio spp. abundance additionally represents a non-fecal bacteria that can cause vibriosis in humans and aquatic organisms. Since vibriosis is the leading cause of disease-related fish mortality in aquaculture, pathogenic Vibrio spp. have large health and economic implications. These implications, as well as the added interpretative value when compared to other bacterial indicators, make Vibrio spp. abundance a good candidate as a water quality indicator. Significant dependence of the abundance on depth further differentiates Vibrio spp. from other indicators, thus bolstering the candidacy - especially in aquaculture areas. Before inclusion of any Vibrio spp. indicators into legislature, further research is needed particularly into (i) abundance thresholds characterizing water quality, and (ii) identification of species whose abundance should be monitored for best estimate of the disease risks.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: aquaculture; pathogens; limit values; regulations; legislature
NATURAL SCIENCES > Biology > Microbiology
Divisions: Division for Marine and Enviromental Research
Project titleProject leaderProject codeProject type
Mikrobna ekologija voda kao pokazatelj zdravstvenog stanja okoliša (AQUAHEALTH)Damir KapetanovićIP-2014-09-3494Znanstveno-istraživački projekti
Depositing User: Marija Purgar Filjak
Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2023 14:23
DOI: 10.1016/j.ecss.2023.108558

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