Response of Aquatic Microbial Communities to Surfactants

    Published: Jan 1988

      Format Pages Price  
    PDF (316K) 18 $25   ADD TO CART
    Complete Source PDF (9.5M) 18 $81   ADD TO CART


    The response of microbial communities to three classes of surfactants was studied in a stream and lake ecosystem. Dodecyltrimethylammonium chloride (TMAC, cationic) had no effect on bacterial biomass or carbon turnover in the sediment, water column, or epilithon in a first-order stream that was continuously dosed with TMAC for 23 days. Biodegradation of TMAC was evident at all sites and showed a time-dependent increase only at the highest (0.25 mg/L) dose site. The effects of long-chain nonionic (linear primary alcohol ethoxylate: Neodol 45-7) and anionic (linear alkylbenzene sulfonate) surfactants were studied in situ in Acton Lake, Ohio. The chemicals were tested over a concentration range of 0.001 to 10 mg/L in both short-term (3 h) and long-term (21 day) exposures. Neither of the chemicals had averse effects on the microbial biomass as measured by acridine orange direct counts. In the acute test of these chemicals, decreased turnover of glucose was noted in the concentration range of 0.1 to 10 mg/L surfactant. However, in chronic tests (21 day) the communities recovered, and carbon turnover returned to preexposure levels. Chronic exposure also resulted in an adaptive response as indicated by increased degradation of the chemicals after exposure. Our studies indicate that exposure of lake and stream microbial communities to surfactants had no long-term detrimental effects on bacterial heterotrophy and resulted in increased biodegradation of these materials.


    microbial response, heterotrophic activity, biodegradation, adaptation, surfactants, aquatic toxicology

    Author Information:

    Ventullo, RM
    Associate professor, University of Dayton, Dayton, OH

    Lewis, MA
    Toxicologist and section head, Procter & Gamble Co., Ivorydale Technical Center, Cincinnati, OH

    Larson, RJ
    Toxicologist and section head, Procter & Gamble Co., Ivorydale Technical Center, Cincinnati, OH

    Committee/Subcommittee: E47.01

    DOI: 10.1520/STP10279S

    CrossRef ASTM International is a member of CrossRef.