Ship ballast water is a recognized medium for transfer and introductions of nonindigenous species. There is a need for new ballast water treatment methods that effectively and safely eliminate or greatly minimize movements of these species. The present study employed laboratory methods to evaluate the bactericidal efficacy of increased pH (pH 10.0–12.0) for exposure durations of up to 72 h to kill a variety of Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria including fish pathogens (Aeromonas spp., Yersinia ruckeri, Edwardsiella ictaluri, Serratia liquefaciens, Carnobacterium sp.), other common aquatic-inhabitant bacteria (Serratia marcescens, Pseudomonas fluorescens, Staphylococcus sp., Bacillus sp.) and indicators listed in International Maritime Organization D2 Standards; namely, Vibrio cholera (an environmental isolate from fish), Escherichia coli and Enterococcus faecalis. Volumes of 5 N NaOH were added to tryptic soy broth to obtain desired pH adjustments. Viable cells were determined after 0, 4, 12, 24, 48, and 72 h. Initial (0 h) cell numbers ranged from 3.40 × 104 cfu/mL for Bacillus sp. to 2.44 × 107 cfu/mL for E. faecalis. The effective endpoints of pH and treatment duration necessary to realize 100% bactericidal effect varied; however, all bacteria tested were killed within 72 h at pH 12.0 or lower. The lowest parameters examined, 4 h at pH 10.0, were bactericidal to V. cholera, E. ictaluri, three of four isolates of E. coli, and (three of four) Aeromonas salmonicida subsp. salmonicida. Bactericidal effect was attained at pH 10.0 within 12 h for the other A. salmonicida subsp. salmonicida, and within 24 h for P. fluorescens, and the remaining E. coli.
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Bactericidal efficacy of elevated pH on fish pathogenic and environmental bacteria