Abundance and Distribution of Vibrio cholerae, V. parahaemolyticus, and V. vulnificus Following a Major Freshwater Intrusion into the Mississippi Sound

Document Type


Publication Date



Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory


In response to a major influx of freshwater to the Mississippi Sound following the opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway, water samples were collected from three sites along the Mississippi shoreline to assess the impact of altered salinity on three pathogenic Vibrio species. Salinity readings across the affected area during the 2011 sample period ranged from 1.4 to 12.9 ppt (mean = 7.0) and for the 2012 sample period from 14.1 to 23.6 ppt (mean = 19.8). Analyses of the data collected in 2011 showed a reduction in densities of Vibrio parahaemolyticus and Vibrio vulnificus with a concurrent increase of Vibrio cholerae numbers, with V. cholerae becoming the only Vibrio detected once salinity readings dropped to 6 ppt. Follow-up samples taken in 2012 after recovery of the salinity in the sound showed that the relative densities of the three pathogenic vibrios had reverted back to normal levels. This study shows that although the spillway was open but a few weeks and the effects were therefore time limited, the Mississippi River water had a profound, if temporary, effect on Vibrio ecology in the Mississippi Sound.

Publication Title

Microbial Ecology





First Page


Last Page