Thursday, August 18, 2011

Discarded larger cans and sewage fungus

Sewage fungus forms macroscopic growths of bacteria
and fungus that coat the entire substrate of rivers
affected by severe organic pollution
 I was doubly interested in a recent newspaper article this month concerning a company owned by Heineken UK.  It was recently fined for polluting a tributary of the River Leadon in Herefordshire. Leachate from apple waste had accidently found its way into the stream during site work causing a sewage fungus outbreak and also a fish kill.  The reason why this story caught my interest is that for many years I worked on sewage fungus here in Ireland, but over the years it has become a very rare site here in Ireland and also I suspect in England…which is a good thing unless it  happens  to be your research area!  The microbial ecology of sewage fungus is quite fascinating being largely comprised of filamentous heterotrophic bacteria, although there are three filamentous fungi which occasionally form part of the community.  The other reason why the story interested me was that I was sampling a section of river today and the bank was covered with discarded cans of Heineken larger, obviously a remnant of some summer party.  So I have made a new resolution and that is always to pack one plastic sack and a litter picker along with my sampling gear and make sure that at every site I visit I clear up any bank side litter before I leave and try to bring a full sack of litter/rubbish back each trip and recycle what I can. 

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