Status of faecal pollution in ports: A basin-wide investigation in the Adriatic Sea

Mar Pollut Bull. 2019 Oct;147:219-228. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2018.03.050. Epub 2018 Apr 8.


Ports are subject to a variety of anthropogenic impacts, and there is mounting evidence of faecal contamination through several routes. Yet, little is known about pollution in ports by faecal indicator bacteria (FIB). FIB spatio-temporal dynamics were assessed in 12 ports of the Adriatic Sea, a semi-enclosed basin under strong anthropogenic pressure, and their relationships with environmental variables were explored to gain insight into pollution sources. FIB were abundant in ports, often more so than in adjacent areas; their abundance patterns were related to salinity, oxygen, and nutrient levels. In addition, a molecular method, quantitative (q)PCR, was used to quantify FIB. qPCR enabled faster FIB determination and water quality monitoring that culture-based methods. These data provide robust baseline evidence of faecal contamination in ports and can be used to improve the management of routine port activities (dredging and ballast water exchange), having potential to spread pathogens in the sea.

Keywords: Adriatic Sea; Faecal bacteria; Ports; qPCR.

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods
  • Feces / microbiology*
  • Mediterranean Sea
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Salinity
  • Seasons
  • Ships
  • Spatio-Temporal Analysis
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Water Microbiology*
  • Water Quality