Microbiology of the oil fly, Helaeomyia petrolei.
Helaeomyia petrolei larvae isolated from the asphalt seeps of Rancho La Brea in Los Angeles, Calif., were examined for microbial gut contents. Standard counts on Luria-Bertani, MacConkey, and blood agar plates indicated ca. 2 x 10(5) heterotrophic bacteria per larva. The culturable bacteria represented 15 to 20% of the total population as determined by acridine orange staining. The gut itself contained large amounts of the oil, had no observable ceca, and maintained a slightly acidic pH of 6.3 to 6.5. Despite the ingestion of large amounts of potentially toxic asphalt by the larvae, their guts sustained the growth of 100 to 1,000 times more bacteria than did free oil. All of the bacteria isolated were nonsporeformers and gram negative. Fourteen isolates were chosen based on representative colony morphologies and were identified by using the Enterotube II and API 20E systems and fatty acid analysis. Of the 14 isolates, 9 were identified as Providencia rettgeri and 3 were likely Acinetobacter isolates. No evidence was found that the isolates grew on or derived nutrients from the asphalt itself or that they played an essential role in insect development. Regardless, any bacteria found in the oil fly larval gut are likely to exhibit pronounced solvent tolerance and may be a future source of industrially useful, solvent-tolerant enzymes. (+info
Microbial population changes during bioremediation of an experimental oil spill.
Three crude oil bioremediation techniques were applied in a randomized block field experiment simulating a coastal oil spill. Four treatments (no oil control, oil alone, oil plus nutrients, and oil plus nutrients plus an indigenous inoculum) were applied. In situ microbial community structures were monitored by phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) analysis and 16S rDNA PCR-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) to (i) identify the bacterial community members responsible for the decontamination of the site and (ii) define an end point for the removal of the hydrocarbon substrate. The results of PLFA analysis demonstrated a community shift in all plots from primarily eukaryotic biomass to gram-negative bacterial biomass with time. PLFA profiles from the oiled plots suggested increased gram-negative biomass and adaptation to metabolic stress compared to unoiled controls. DGGE analysis of untreated control plots revealed a simple, dynamic dominant population structure throughout the experiment. This banding pattern disappeared in all oiled plots, indicating that the structure and diversity of the dominant bacterial community changed substantially. No consistent differences were detected between nutrient-amended and indigenous inoculum-treated plots, but both differed from the oil-only plots. Prominent bands were excised for sequence analysis and indicated that oil treatment encouraged the growth of gram-negative microorganisms within the alpha-proteobacteria and Flexibacter-Cytophaga-Bacteroides phylum. alpha-Proteobacteria were never detected in unoiled controls. PLFA analysis indicated that by week 14 the microbial community structures of the oiled plots were becoming similar to those of the unoiled controls from the same time point, but DGGE analysis suggested that major differences in the bacterial communities remained. (+info
Pulmonary function and respiratory symptoms in a population of airport workers.
OBJECTIVES: To assess the prevalence of respiratory symptoms and to measure spirometry in a sample of employees of Birmingham International Airport, United Kingdom, to examine whether occupational exposure to aircraft fuel or jet stream exhaust might be associated with respiratory symptoms or abnormalities of lung function. METHODS: Cross sectional survey by questionnaire and on site measurement of lung function, skin prick tests, and exhaled carbon monoxide concentrations. Occupational exposure was assigned by job title, between group comparison were made by logistic regression analysis. RESULTS: 222/680 full time employees were studied (mean age 38.6 y, 63% male, 28% current smokers, 6% self reported asthma, 19% self reported hay fever). Upper and lower respiratory tract symptoms were common and 51% had one or more positive skin tests. There were no significant differences in lung function tests between exposure groups. Between group comparisons of respiratory symptoms were restricted to male members of the medium and high exposure groups. The adjusted odds ratio (OR) for cough with phlegm and runny nose were found to be significantly associated with high exposure (OR 3.5, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.23 to 9.74 and 2.9, 1.32 to 6.40 respectively) when the measured confounding effects of age and smoking, and in the case of runny nose, self reported hay fever had been taken into account. There was no obvious association between high exposure and the presence of shortness of breath or wheeze, or for the symptoms of watering eyes or stuffy nose. CONCLUSIONS: These findings support an association in male airport workers, between high occupational exposures to aviation fuel or jet stream exhaust and excess upper and lower respiratory tract symptoms, in keeping with a respiratory irritant. It is more likely that these effects reflect exposure to exhaust rather than fuel, although the effects of an unmeasured agent cannot be discounted. (+info
Oil shale processing as a source of aquatic pollution: monitoring of the biologic effects in caged and feral freshwater fish.
The biologic effects of the oil shale industry on caged rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) as well as on feral perch (Perca fluviatilis) and roach (Rutilus rutilus) were studied in the River Narva in northeast Estonia. The River Narva passes the oil shale mining and processing area and thus receives elevated amounts of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), heavy metals, and sulfates. The effects of the chemical load were monitored by measuring cytochrome P4501A (CYP1A)-dependent monooxygenase (MO) activities [7-ethoxyresorufin O-deethylase and aryl hydrocarbon hydroxylase (AHH)] as well as conjugation enzyme activities [glutathione S-transferase (GST) and UDP-glucuronosyltransferase] in the liver of fish. CYP1A induction was further studied by detecting the amount and occurrence of the CYP1A protein. Histopathology of tissues (liver, kidney, spleen, and intestine) and the percentage of micronuclei in fish erythrocytes were also determined. Selected PAHs and heavy metals (Cd, Cu, Hg, and Pb) were measured from fish muscle and liver. In spite of the significant accumulation of PAHs, there was no induction of MO activities in any studied fish species. When compared to reference samples, AHH activities were even decreased in feral fish at some of the exposed sites. Detection of CYP1A protein content and the distribution of the CYP1A enzyme by immunohistochemistry also did not show extensive CYP1A induction. Instead, GST activities were significantly increased at exposed sites. Detection of histopathology did not reveal major changes in the morphology of tissues. The micronucleus test also did not show any evidence of genotoxicity. Thus, from the parameters studied, GST activity was most affected. The lack of catalytic CYP1A induction in spite of the heavy loading of PAHs was not studied but has been attributed to the elevated content of other compounds such as heavy metals, some of which can act as inhibitors for MOs. Another possible explanation of this lack of induction is that through adaptation processes the fish could have lost some of their sensitivity to PAHs. Either complex pollution caused by oil shale processing masked part of the harmful effects measured in this study, or oil shale industry did not have any severe effects on fish in the River Narva. Our study illustrates the difficulties in estimating risk in cases where there are numerous various contaminants affecting the biota. (+info
A rural population based case-control study of senile cataract in India.
PURPOSE: Senile cataract contributes to 75% of blindness in India and there is a growing backlog of cataract cases needing surgery. The present study seeks clues to the etiology of senile cataract, so that strategies to prevent or even delay cataract formation could be planned. METHODS: Using a community based case-control design, 258 cases & 308 controls from one centre and 301 cases & 591 controls from another were studied. The subjects were from rural areas and were aged 40-60 years. Logistic regression analysis technique was employed to study the associations between senile cataract and various variables. RESULTS: Systolic blood pressure, duration of exposure to sunlight per day were associated with senile cataract in both the centres (OR = 1.4 & 1.5 for systolic BP and 1.6 & 1.4 for exposure to sunlight). Utilization of rice gruel (OR = 0.5), duration of exposure to fire & dust per day (OR = 1.8), family history of cataract (OR = 5.0), use of cheap cooking fuels (OR = 1.8), increased height (OR = 0.7) and increased number of hours of work per day (OR = 0.7) were other variables that showed significant association in either of the centres. CONCLUSION: Senile cataract appears to have a multi factorial etiology. Though the study provided some clues to the etiology of senile cataract, further studies are needed to know the specific role of these factors in the causation of cataract, so that any preventive or control measures could be initiated in the community. Till such time, we have to fall back on the available surgical approach in control of senile cataract. (+info
Denitrovibrio acetiphilus, a novel genus and species of dissimilatory nitrate-reducing bacterium isolated from an oil reservoir model column.
A novel dissimilatory, nitrate-reducing bacterium, designated strain N2460T, was isolated from an oil reservoir model column. Strain N2460T is a mesophilic, obligately anaerobic, marine, gram-negative bacterium. The cells are vibrio-shaped and motile by a bipolar flagellum. Strain N2460T reduces nitrate to ammonia in a mineral medium supplied by acetate. The presence of a 2-oxoglutarate dehydrogenase activity indicates that acetate is oxidized via the citric acid cycle. No growth is obtained on formate, higher fatty acids, malate, fumarate, benzoate, alcohols, sugar, yeast extract, crude oil, alkanes, proline, hydrogen, sulfur or thiosulfate with nitrate as electron acceptor. Oxygen, sulfate, thiosulfate and sulfur are not utilized as alternative electron acceptors. Strain N2460T grows fermentatively on fumarate, but not on pyruvate. The G+C content of the DNA is 42.6 mol%. 16S rRNA gene analysis shows that strain N2460T belongs to the Bacteria and that the closest relative is 'Geovibrio ferrireducens' (sequence similarity 86.9%). On the basis of phylogenetic as well as phenotypic data, it is proposed that strain N2460T represents the type strain of a new genus and species, Denitrovibrio acetiphilus gen. nov., sp. nov. (+info
Sequential growth of bacteria on crude oil.
By modification of the enrichment culture procedure three bacterial strains capable of degrading crude oil in sea water were isolated in pure culture, UP-2, UP-3, and UP-4. Strain UP-2 appears to be highly specialized for growth on crude oil in sea water since it showed strong preference for oil or oil degradation products as substrates for growth, converted 66% of the oil into a form no longer extractable by organic solvents, quantitatively degraded the paraffinic fraction (gas chromatographic analysis), emulsified the oil during exponential growth, and produced 1.6 x 10-8 cells per mg of oil. After exhaustive growth of UP-2 on crude oil the residual oil supported the growth of UP-3 and UP-4, but not a previously isolated oil-degrading bacterium, RAG-1. Strains UP-2, UP-3, and UP-4 grew on RAG-1-degraded oil (specifically depleted of n-alkanes). The growth of UP-3 and UP-4 on UP-2 and RAG-1-degraded oil resulted in the production of new paraffinic compounds as revealed by gas chromatography. When the four strains were grown either together in a mixed culture or sequentially, there was over 75% oil conversion. By plating on selective media, growth of the individual strains was measured kinetically in the reconstituted mixed culture, revealing competition for common growth substances (UP-2 and RAG-1), emhanced die-off (UP-2), and stabilization (UP-4) during the stationary phase. (+info
Patterns and problems of deliberate self-poisoning in the developing world.
Deliberate self-harm is a major problem in the developing world, responsible for around 600 000 deaths in 1990. The toxicity of available poisons and paucity of medical services ensure that mortality from self-poisoning is far greater in the tropics than in the industrialized world. Few data are available on the poisons most commonly used for self-harm in different parts of the world. This paper reviews the literature on poisoning, to identify the important poisons used for self-harm in these regions. Pesticides are the most important poison throughout the tropics, being both common and associated with a high mortality rate. In some regions, particular pesticides have become the most popular method of self-harm, gaining a notoriety amongst both health-care workers and public. Self-poisoning with medicines such as benzodiazepines and antidepressants is common in urban areas, but associated with few deaths. The antimalarial chloroquine appears the most significant medicine, self-poisoning being common in both Africa and the Pacific region, and often fatal. Paracetamol (acetaminophen) is used in many countries but in few has it reached the popularity typical of the UK. Domestic and industrial chemicals are responsible for significant numbers of deaths and long-term disabilities world-wide. Self-poisoning with plant parts, although uncommon globally, is locally popular in some regions. Few of these poisons have specific antidotes. This emphasizes the importance of determining whether interventions aimed at reducing poison absorption actually produce a clinical benefit, reducing death and complication rates. Future research to improve medical management and find effective ways of reducing the incidence of self-harm, together with more widespread provision of interventions proven to be effective, could rapidly reduce the number of deaths from self-poisoning in the developing world. (+info