Evaluation and simplification of the assimilable organic carbon nutrient bioassay for bacterial growth in drinking water

350 210 Stroud Water Research Center

Kaplan, L.A., T.L. Bott, and D.J. Reasoner. 1993. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 59(5):1532–1539.


A modified assimilable organic carbon (AOC) bioassay is proposed. We evaluated all aspects of the AOC bioassay technique, including inoculum, incubation water, bioassay vessel, and enumeration technique. Other concerns included eliminating the need to prepare organic carbon-free glassware and minimizing the risks of bacterial and organic carbon contamination. Borosilicate vials (40 ml) with Teflon-lined silicone septa are acceptable incubation vessels. Precleaned vials are commercially available, and the inoculum can be injected directly through the septa. Both bioassay organisms, Pseudomonas fluorescens P-17 and Spirillum sp. strain NOX, are available from the American Type Culture Collection and grow well on R2A agar, making this a convenient plating medium. Turbid raw waters need to be filtered prior to an AOC analysis. Glass fiber filters used with either a peristaltic pump or a syringe-type filter holder are recommended for this purpose. A sampling design that emphasizes replication of the highest experimental level, individual batch cultures, is the most efficacious way to reduce the total variance associated with the AOC bioassay. Quality control for the AOC bioassay includes an AOC blank and checks for organic carbon limitation and inhibition of the bioassay organisms.