Mixed response in bacterial and biochemical variables to simulated sand mining in placer-rich beach sediments, Ratnagiri, West coast of India
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The influence of mechanical disturbance of sediment-akin to small scale mining on bacterial community and biochemical variables was investigated at Kalbadevi beach, Ratnagiri, a placer-rich beach ecosystem which is a potential mining site. Changes were noted by comparing three periods, phase I before disturbance, phase II just after disturbance, and phase III 24 h after disturbance as the bacterial generation time is less than or equal to 7 h. Cores from dune, berm, high-, mid-, and low-tide were examined for changes in distribution of total bacterial abundance, total direct viability (counts under aerobic and anaerobic conditions), culturability and biochemical parameters up to 40 cm depth. Results showed that bacterial abundance decreased by an order from 10 sup(6) cells g sup(-1) sediment, while, viability reduced marginally. Culturability on different strength nutrient broth increased by 155% during phase II. Changes in sedimentary proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids were marked at berm and dune and masked at other levels by tidal influence. Sedimentary ATP reduced drastically. During phase III, Pearson's correlation between these variables evolved from non-significant to significant level. Thus, simulated disturbance had a mixed effect on bacterial and biochemical variables of the sediments. It had a negative impact on bacterial abundance, viability and ATP but positive impact on culturability. Viability, culturability, and ATP could act as important indicators reflecting the disturbance in the system at short time intervals. Culturability, which improved by an order, could perhaps be a fraction that contributes to restoration of the system at bacterial level. This baseline information about the potential mining site could help in developing rational approach towards sustainable harnessing of resources with minimum damage to the ecosystem.
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