Growth rates of unattached bacteria in groundwater contaminated with treated sewage and collected at various distances from the source of contamination were estimated by using frequency of dividing cells and tritiated-thymidine uptake and compared with growth rates obtained with unsupplemented, closed-bottle incubations. Estimates of bacterial generation times [(In 2)/mu] along a 3-km-long transect in oxygen-depleted (0.1 to 0.7 mg of dissolved oxygen liter-1) groundwater ranged from 16 h at 0.26 km downgradient from an on-land, treated-sewage outfall to 139 h at 1.6 km and correlated with bacterial abundance (r2 = 0.88 at P less than 0.001). Partitioning of assimilated thymidine into nucleic acid generally decreased with distance from the contaminant source, and one population in heavily contaminated groundwater assimilated little thymidine during a 20-h incubation. Several assumptions commonly made when frequency of dividing cells and tritiated-thymidine uptake are used were not applicable to the groundwater samples.
Additional publication details
Growth determinations for unattached bacteria in a contaminated aquifer.