MathBench > Environmental Science

What's in your Watershed?

How do microbes grow?

As I said before, Enterococci prefer to live inside of someone’s gut.  There they have ready access to a nice warm body temperature, and they are bathed in a sugary broth of nutrients.


Nevertheless, enterococci are nothing if not flexible.  They can survive water temperatures from a cool autumn day to hot summer.  They can digest amino acids (the building blocks of protein) as well as starches and sugars.  They can live with oxygen or without it (therefore they are called facultative anaerobes – they have the facility, but not the necessity, of living anaerobically – without oxygen). 

testing for E. faecalisIn other words, enterococci thrive in your gut or in a petri dish, but in most other environments, they just hang out, neither dying nor reproducing much.  Because of this useful skill, enterococci have become the official sponsors of the US Environmental Protection Agency water quality testing.  What I mean is, they are the microbe officially used by the EPA to measure contamination of water.

And we’re gonna make like the EPA, and use enterococci to test our waters as well.

http://www.whoi.edu/page.do?pid=35555&tid=1423&cid=47886