Development of a PCR-enzyme immunoassay oligoprobe detection method for Toxoplasma gondii oocysts, incorporating PCR controls. (33/1318)

Infections caused by Toxoplasma gondii are widely prevalent in animals and humans throughout the world. In the United States, an estimated 23% of adolescents and adults have laboratory evidence of T. gondii infection. T. gondii has been identified as a major opportunistic pathogen in immunocompromised individuals, in whom it can cause life-threatening disease. Water contaminated with feces from domestic cats or other felids may be an important source of human exposure to T. gondii oocysts. Because of the lack of information regarding the prevalence of T. gondii in surface waters, there is a clear need for a rapid, sensitive method to detect T. gondii from water. Currently available animal models and cell culture methods are time-consuming, expensive, and labor-intensive, requiring days or weeks for results to be obtained. Detection of T. gondii nucleic acid by PCR has become the preferred method. We have developed a PCR amplification and detection method for T. gondii oocyst nucleic acid that incorporates the use of hot-start amplification to reduce nonspecific primer annealing, uracil-N-glycosylase to prevent false-positive results due to carryover contamination, an internal standard control to identify false-negative results due to inadequate removal of sample inhibition, and PCR product oligoprobe confirmation using a nonradioactive DNA hybridization immunoassay. This method can provide positive, confirmed results in less than 1 day. Fewer than 50 oocysts can be detected following recovery of oocyst DNA. Development of a T. gondii oocyst PCR detection method will provide a useful technique to estimate the levels of T. gondii oocysts present in surface waters.  (+info)

Comparing denitrification estimates for a Texas estuary by using acetylene inhibition and membrane inlet mass spectrometry. (34/1318)

Characterizing denitrification rates in aquatic ecosystems is essential to understanding how systems may respond to increased nutrient loading. Thus, it is important to ensure the precision and accuracy of the methods employed for measuring denitrification rates. The acetylene (C2H2) inhibition method is a simple technique for estimating denitrification. However, potential problems, such as inhibition of nitrification and incomplete inhibition of nitrous oxide reduction, may influence rate estimates. Recently, membrane inlet mass spectrometry (MIMS) has been used to measure denitrification in aquatic systems. Comparable results were obtained with MIMS and C2H2 inhibition methods when chloramphenicol was added to C2H2 inhibition assay mixtures to inhibit new synthesis of denitrifying enzymes. Dissolved-oxygen profiles indicated that surface layers of sediment cores subjected to the MIMS flowthrough incubation remained oxic whereas cores incubated using the C2H2 inhibition methods did not. Analysis of the microbial assemblages before and after incubations indicated significant changes in the sediment surface populations during the long flowthrough incubation for MIMS analysis but not during the shorter incubation used for the C2H2 inhibition method. However, bacterial community changes were also small in MIMS cores at the oxygen transition zone where denitrification occurs. The C2H2 inhibition method with chloramphenicol addition, conducted over short incubation intervals, provides a cost-effective method for estimating denitrification, and rate estimates are comparable to those obtained by the MIMS method.  (+info)

Detection of Prochlorothrix in brackish waters by specific amplification of pcb genes. (35/1318)

Prochlorothrix hollandica is the only filamentous chlorophyll b (Chlb)-containing oxyphotobacterium that has been found in freshwater habitats to date. Chlb serves as a light-harvesting pigment which is bound to special binding proteins (Pcb). Even though Prochlorothrix was initially characterized as a highly salt-sensitive species, we detected it in a brackish water environment that is characterized by salinities of up to 12 practical salinity units. Using PCR and reverse transcription, we amplified pcb gene fragments of phytoplankton samples taken along a salinity gradient in the eutrophic Darss-Zingst estuary (southern Baltic Sea). After sequencing, high levels of homology to the pcbB and pcbC genes of P. hollandica were found. Furthermore, autofluorescence of Prochlorothrix-like filaments that indicated that Chlb was present was detected in enrichment cultures prepared from the estuarine phytoplankton. The detection of Chlb-containing filaments, as well as the pcb and 16S ribosomal DNA sequences, suggests that Prochlorothrix is an indigenous genus in the Darss-Zingst estuary and may also inhabit many other brackish water environments. The potential of using pcb gene detection to differentiate Prochlorothrix from morphologically indistinguishable species belonging to the genera Pseudanabaena and Planktothrix (Oscillatoria) in phytoplankton analyses is discussed.  (+info)

Determination of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene in river water by solid-phase extraction and gas chromatography. (36/1318)

A rapid and reproducible method is described that employs solid-phase extraction (SPE) using dichloromethane, followed by gas chromatography (GC) with flame ionization detection for the determination of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene and cumene (BTEXC) from Buriganga River water of Bangladesh. The method was applied to detect BTEXC in a sample collected from the surface, or 5 cm depth of water. Two-hundred milliliters of n-hexane-pretreated and filtered water samples were applied directly to a C18 SPE column. BTEXC were extracted with dichloromethane and the BTEX concentrations were obtained to be 0.1 to 0.37 microg ml(-1). The highest concentration of benzene was found as 0.37 microg ml(-1) with a relative standard deviation (RSD) of 6.2%; cumene was not detected. The factors influencing SPE e.g., adsorbent types, sample load volume, eluting solvent, headspace and temperatures, were investigated. A cartridge containing a C18 adsorbent and using dichloromethane gave a better performance for the extraction of BTEXC from water. Average recoveries exceeding 90% could be achieved for cumene at 4 degrees C with a 2.7% RSD.  (+info)

Anaerobic ammonium oxidation measured in sediments along the Thames estuary, United Kingdom. (37/1318)

Until recently, denitrification was thought to be the only significant pathway for N(2) formation and, in turn, the removal of nitrogen in aquatic sediments. The discovery of anaerobic ammonium oxidation in the laboratory suggested that alternative metabolisms might be present in the environment. By using a combination of (15)N-labeled NH(4)(+), NO(3)(-), and NO(2)(-) (and (14)N analogues), production of (29)N(2) and (30)N(2) was measured in anaerobic sediment slurries from six sites along the Thames estuary. The production of (29)N(2) in the presence of (15)NH(4)(+) and either (14)NO(3)(-) or (14)NO(2)(-) confirmed the presence of anaerobic ammonium oxidation, with the stoichiometry of the reaction indicating that the oxidation was coupled to the reduction of NO(2)(-). Anaerobic ammonium oxidation proceeded at equal rates via either the direct reduction of NO(2)(-) or indirect reduction, following the initial reduction of NO(3)(-). Whether NO(2)(-) was directly present at 800 micro M or it accumulated at 3 to 20 micro M (from the reduction of NO(3)(-)), the rate of (29)N(2) formation was not affected, which suggested that anaerobic ammonium oxidation was saturated at low concentrations of NO(2)(-). We observed a shift in the significance of anaerobic ammonium oxidation to N(2) formation relative to denitrification, from 8% near the head of the estuary to less than 1% at the coast. The relative importance of anaerobic ammonium oxidation was positively correlated (P < 0.05) with sediment organic content. This report of anaerobic ammonium oxidation in organically enriched estuarine sediments, though in contrast to a recent report on continental shelf sediments, confirms the presence of this novel metabolism in another aquatic sediment system.  (+info)

Diversity and abundance of uncultured cytophaga-like bacteria in the Delaware estuary. (38/1318)

The Cytophaga-Flavobacterium group is known to be abundant in aquatic ecosystems and to have a potentially unique role in the utilization of organic material. However, relatively little is known about the diversity and abundance of uncultured members of this bacterial group, in part because they are underrepresented in clone libraries of 16S rRNA genes. To circumvent a suspected bias in PCR, a primer set was designed to amplify 16S rRNA genes from the Cytophaga-Flavobacterium group and was used to construct a library of these genes from the Delaware Estuary. This library had several novel Cytophaga-like 16S rRNA genes, of which about 40% could be grouped together into two clusters (DE clusters 1 and 2) defined by sequences initially observed only in the Delaware library; the other 16S rRNA genes were classified into an additional four clades containing sequences from other environments. An oligonucleotide probe was designed for the cluster with the most clones (DE cluster 2) and was used in fluorescence in situ hybridization assays. Bacteria in DE cluster 2 accounted for about 10% of the total prokaryotic abundance in the Delaware Estuary and in a depth profile of the Chukchi Sea (Arctic Ocean). The presence of DE cluster 2 in the Arctic Ocean was confirmed by results from 16S rRNA clone libraries. The contribution of this cluster to the total bacterial biomass is probably larger than is indicated by the abundance of its members, because the average cell volume of bacteria in DE cluster 2 was larger than those of other bacteria and prokaryotes in the Delaware Estuary and Chukchi Sea. DE cluster 2 may be one of the more abundant bacterial groups in the Delaware Estuary and possibly other marine environments.  (+info)

On the pterosaur remains from the Rio Belgrano Formation (Barremian), Patagonian Andes of Argentina. (39/1318)

Pterosaur remains from the Rio Belgrano Formation, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina, were found close to the Estancia Rio Roble, along with several ammonoids that indicate a Barremian age for those strata. The specimens (MACN-SC 3617) consist of one ulna and one element tentatively identified as a portion of a wing metacarpal. The ulna shows morphological affinities with the Pteranodontoidea (sensu Kellner 1996), particularly with the members of the Anhangueridae by having a well developed ventral crest close to the proximal articulation, and is tentatively referred to this pterosaur clade. The oldest record of the Anhangueridae, previously limited to the Aptian/Albian, is therefore extended to the Barremian. The Argentinean material is preserved in three dimensions, an unusual condition for pterosaur fossils from that country, indicating that the site situated near the Estancia Rio Roble has a great potential for new and well preserved specimens.  (+info)

Seroprevalence and risk factors for Trypanosoma cruzi infection in the Amazon region of Ecuador. (40/1318)

Trypanosoma cruzi infection in the Ecuadorian Amazon region has recently been reported. A seroepidemiologic survey conducted in four provinces in this region indicates a seroprevalence rate of 2.4% among the 6,866 samples collected in 162 communities. Among children < OR = 10 years of age, 1.2% were seropositive. Risk factors for T. cruzi seropositivity were having been born and remaining in the Ecuadorian Amazon provinces, age, living in a house with a thatch roof and open or mixed wall construction, recognizing the vector insects, and reporting being bitten by a triatomine bug. These data suggest active transmission of Chagas' disease in the Ecuadorian Amazon region is associated with poor housing conditions, and highlight the need for further studies aimed at understanding the biology of the insect vectors, reservoir species, and the clinical impact of T. cruzi infection as the basis for future educational and control programs in this region.  (+info)