Development of an enzyme assay for rapid assessment of Escherichia coli in seawaters

Journal of Applied Microbiology
G CarusoM Mancuso


An analytical protocol has been developed and applied for the detection of glucuronidase activity in marine waters as a rapid alternative approach to assess the microbiological quality of seawaters. The fluorogenic substrate 4-methylumbelliferyl-beta-D-glucuronide is cleaved to a fluorescent product, methylumbelliferone, by the enzyme beta-glucuronidase, specific to Escherichia coli and closely related enterobacterial species (Shigella). The results suggest that this test is related to E. coli numbers, as estimated by immunofluorescence, more significantly than to faecal coliform numbers, obtained from culture media. The determination of the potential rate of glucuronidase activity may be used as a diagnostic tool for the indirect estimation of the presence of E. coli in seawaters. The method may be particularly useful in the early warning of seawater pollution, allowing the screening of coastal areas with different contamination levels in reduced time.


Jun 1, 1982·Applied and Environmental Microbiology·P C Feng, P A Hartman
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Dec 1, 1998·Journal of Applied Microbiology·D P Sartory, J Watkins

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