U.S. Department of Defense


Date of this Version



Molina, V., Journal of Sea Research (2017), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.seares.2017.06.005


U.S. government work.


Living organisms ≥10 μm and< 50 μm in ballast water discharged from ships are typically collected by filtering samples through a monofilament mesh net with pore openings sized to retain organisms ≥10 μm. This (or any) filtering method does not result in perfect size fractionation, and it can induce stress, mortality, and loss of organisms that, in turn, may underestimate the concentration of organisms within samples. To address this loss, the retention efficiency (RE) was determined for six filtration approaches using laboratory cultures of microalgae and ambient marine organisms. The approaches employed a membrane filter or mesh nettings of different compositions (nylon, stainless steel, polyester, and polycarbonate), nominal pore sizes (5, 7, and 10 μm), and filtering sequences (e.g., pre-filtering water through a coarse filter). Additionally, in trials with polycarbonate track etched (PCTE) membrane filters, water was amended with particulate material to increase turbidity. Organisms ≥10 μm were counted in the material retained on the filter (the filtrand), the material passing through the filter (the filtrate), and the whole water (i.e., unfiltered water). In addition, variable fluorescence fluorometry was used to gauge the relative photochemical yield of phytoplankton—a proximal measurement of the physiological status of phytoplankton—in the size fractions. Further, the mesh types and filters were examined using scanning electron microscopy, which showed irregular openings. The RE of cultured organisms— calculated as the concentration in the filtrand relative to combined concentration in the filtrand and the filtrate—was high for all filtration approaches when laboratory cultures were assessed (> 93%), but RE ranged from 66 to 98% when mixed assemblages of ambient organisms were evaluated. Although PCTE membrane filters had the highest RE (98%), it was not significantly higher than the efficiencies of the 7-μm polyester, Double 7-μm polyester, and Dual 35-μm and 7-μm polyester approaches, but it was significantly higher than the 5-μm nylon and 5-μm stainless steel techniques. This result suggests that PCTE membrane filters perform comparably to 7-μm polyester meshes, so that any of these approaches could be used for concentrating organisms. However, the potential for handling loss is inherently lower for one rinsing step rather than two. Therefore, it is recommended that, either PCTE filters or 7-μm polyester mesh could be used to concentrate organisms ≥ 10 μm and< 50 μm. In trials conducted using a 10-μm PCTE filters with water amended to increase the particulate concentration, no significant difference in RE of ambient organisms was found compared to unamended water. Finally, photochemical yield did not vary significantly between organisms in the filtrand or filtrate, regardless of the filtration approach used.