The tunicate Styela plicata (Ascidiacea) was investigated for its potential use in bioremediation of bacteria and microalgae blooms from estuarine waters. Salinity tolerances, filtration rate, substrate selection, and effects on digested bacteria and ichthyofaunal communities were examined. If acclimated slowly, Styela can be placed in salinities as low as 24 parts per thousand (ppt) before increased fatalities result. An immediate decrease in salinity from 32 ppt to 20 ppt was not detrimental at short term exposure (four days). One average-sized (∼40g) Styela, exposed to 105 and 106 bacteria or microalgae mL−1, can filter as much as 4.7 L hr −1 and 3.3 L hr−1, respectively. Individual tunicate filtration rates varied from hour to hour, independent of organism size, indicating that filtration rates for this species would be better reported on a population basis rather than on an individual weight or size basis. Bacterial viability in tunicate feces was assessed by ATP analysis. Bacteria were found to be non-viable after passage through the tunicate digestive tract. Filtration of eggs or larvae of recreationally or commercially important fish is of concern. The smallest eggs (∼0.6 mm) reported in the Indian River Lagoon belong to Cynoscion nebulosus (spotted seatrout) and Bairdiella chrysoura (silver perch). Over the course of two hours, 72.5% of 0.5 mm glass beads (simulated fish eggs) were initially retained, but many were later expelled by the tunicates. For 1.0 mm beads, 49.4% were initially retained and for 2.0 mm beads, 43.5% were initially retained. Neither the size of the oral siphon nor the size of the overall animal was correlated to bead retention. Substrate selection was investigated using the tunicate Phallusia nigra. Newly hatched larvae preferred settling on wood (53.7%), as compared to polyethylene (30.9%), high-density polyethylene (13.0%), and polyvinyl chloride (2.4%). Overall, results of this study indicate S. plicata is very effective at removing bacteria and microalgae from estuarine waters. However, further testing is warranted regarding the unwanted removal of fish eggs and larvae before utilization of S. plicata for bioremedial purposes.
|Advisor:||Hartmann, James X.|
|School:||Florida Atlantic University|
|School Location:||United States -- Florida|
|Source:||DAI-B 71/05, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Water Resource Management, Environmental science|
|Keywords:||Algal blooms, Algal contamination, Bacterial contamination, Bioremediation, Estuarine waters, Styela plicata|
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