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Comparative microbial sampling from eutrophic caves in Slovenia and Slovakia using RIDA®COUNT test kits

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Author(s): Mulec Janez | Krištůfek Václav | Chroňáková Alica

Journal: International Journal of Speleology
ISSN 0392-6672

Volume: 41;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: caves | monitoring | air | water | speleothems | bacteria | fungi

ABSTRACT
RIDA®COUNT test plates were used as an easy-to-handle and rapid indicator of microbial counts in karst ecosystems of several caves in Slovakia and Slovenia. All of the caves had a high organic input from water streams, tourists, roosting bat colonies or terrestrial surroundings. We sampled swabs, water and air samples to test robustness and universality of the RIDA®COUNT test kit (R-Biopharm AG, Germany, http://www.r-biopharm.com/) for quantification of total bacteria, coliforms, yeast and mold. Using data from swabs (colony-forming units CFU per cm2) we proposed a scale for description of biocontamination level or superficial microbial load of cave niches. Based on this scale, surfaces of Ardovská Cave, Drienovská Cave and Stará Brzotínská Cave (Slovakia) were moderately colonized by microbes, with total microbial counts (sum of total bacterial count and total yeast and molds count) in the range of 1,001-10,000 CFU/100 cm2, while some surfaces from the show cave Postojna Cave (Slovenia) can be considered highly colonized by microbes (total microbial counts ≥ 10,001 CFU/100 cm2). Ardovská Cave also had a high concentration of airborne microbes, which can be explained by restricted air circulation and regular bat activity. The ratio of coliform to total counts of bacteria in the 9 km of underground Pivka River flow in Postojna Cave dropped approximately 4-fold from the entrance, indicating the high anthropogenic pollution in the most exposed site in the show cave. The RIDA®COUNT test kit was proven to be applicable for regular monitoring of eutrophication and human influence in eutrophic karst caves.
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