Discovery of the key role of organisms that filter water and make it clear

 

  Recent data demonstrated a gigantic role of aquatic organisms in making water clean and clear. It was shown in the long-term international project that was carried out recently. The amazing results were presented in this paper, which is a review of the multi-year studies of aquatic organisms, mainly marine and freshwater invertebrates that are filter-feeders – freshwater mussels, marine mussels, oysters. They play a key role as biological filters – as an important part of the biosphere and hydrosphere. The studies were conducted in laboratories of four countries, including U.K. (England), Russia, Ukraine.

Publication:
Ostroumov S.A. Biological filters are an important part of the biosphere – Science in Russia. 2009. No. 2. P. 30-36, in English. [The journal ‘Science in Russia’ is published by the Presidium of Russian Academy of Sciences, both in English and in Russian; Nauka Publishers, Moscow; ISSN 0869-7078. www.ras.ru, ©Russian Academy of Sciences Presidium.] Full text of the paper see:
http://b23.ru/n4v7;

Additional in-depth analysis of the role of aquatic organisms that filter water was given also in the papers:
Ostroumov S.A. Some aspects of water filtering activity of filter-feeders // Hydrobiologia. 2005. Vol. 542, No. 1. P. 275 – 286. text: www.scribd.com/doc/44105992/
Also:


http://b23.ru/n1d2;
http://www.scribd.com/doc/45914806 [planktonic filter-feeders];


see also Chapter entitled: “Suspension-feeders as factors influencing water quality in aquatic ecosystems”
in the book: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2248557

 

Addition:

interesting posts on innovations in environmental science:

http://5bio5.blogspot.com/2012/05/normal-0-false-false-false-ru-x-none-x_03.html;

http://5bio5.blogspot.com/2012/04/environmental-science-key-bibliography.html;

http://5bio5.blogspot.com/2012/05/websites-on-scientific-activities-of.html;

http://5bio5.blogspot.com/2012/05/blog-post.html;

http://5bio5.blogspot.com/2012/05/discovery-of-inhibitory-analysis-in.html;

http://5bio5.blogspot.com/2012/05/aquatic-macrophyte-ceratophyllum.html;

http://5bio5.blogspot.com/2012/04/well-cited-article-inhibitory-analysis.html;

http://5bio5.blogspot.com/2012/05/innovative-contribution-to-solution-to.html;

http://5bio5.blogspot.com/2012/05/new-scientific-terminology-integral.html;

http://5bio5.blogspot.com/2012/05/monetary-estimate-of-good-scientific.html;

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Cone snail venom controls pain

Hidden in the mud, the cone snail Conus purpurascens lies in wait for its victims. It attracts its prey, fish, with its proboscis, which can move like a worm, protruding from the mud. Once a fish approaches out of curiosity, the snail will rapidly shoot a harpoon at it, which consists of an evolutionarily modified tooth. The paralyzed victim then becomes an easy meal. It takes the venomous cone snail about two weeks to digest a fish. During this time, its venomous harpoon is also replaced.

Prof. Dr. Diana Imhof from the Pharmaceutical Institute of the University of Bonn, who is the project’s PI, explained, “We are interested in the cone snail’s neurotoxins, called conotoxins.” They can be effective in minute quantities, interrupt the transmission of signals in nerve paths in a highly selective manner, and are thus able to block the transmission of pain very well. Consequently, these toxins are of great interest for developing analgesics for chronically ill or terminal cancer patients for whom other medications can no longer be used. “The advantage of these conotoxins is that they do not cause dependency,” Imhof, a pharmaceutical chemist, explained. “Since the peptide we studied decomposes rather quickly in the body, we do, however, need more stable forms that we can administer.”

Scientists replicate the rare venom in vitro

The Bonn researchers worked with Prof. Dr. Stefan H. Heinemann from the Biophysics Department of the University of Jena, scientists from the Leibniz Institute for Age Research Jena and the Technical University of Darmstadt. “The µ-PIIIA conotoxin, which was of interest in this study, occurs only in extremely minute quantities in marine cone snails,” said Dr. Alesia A. Tietze, the lead author, who received her doctoral degree on Prof. Imhof’s team. However, the scientists were able to produce the specific venom chemically in vitro for use in additional analyses. Tietze added, “We succeeded in identifying the structure of different µ-PIIIA conotoxin variants and their different effects using nuclear magnetic resonance.”

The venom in question is a substance whose different amino acids are strung together like pearls. “This string can form clusters in different ways, forming divers 3D structures,” explained Prof. Imhof. Until now it had been thought that only one of these forms is biologically effective. “It was exactly this dogma that we were able to disprove,” the Bonn scientist added. “We identified three active types of peptide folding with a similar effect – there are probably even more.” These variants do, however, differ slightly with regard to their biological efficacy, representing valuable starting structures for further development into analgesics.

Consequently, the scientists want to conduct additional studies in order to find out more these different fold variants of the µ-PIIIA conotoxin. But it will take years until patients may be able to profit from this. “We are still in the basic research stadium,” said Prof. Imhof.

Satellite observes rapid ice shelf disintegration in Antarctic

As ESA’s Envisat satellite marks ten years in orbit, it continues to observe the rapid retreat of one of Antarctica’s ice shelves due to climate warming.

One of the satellite’s first observations following its launch on 1 March 2002 was of break-up of a main section of the B in Antarctica – when 3200 sq km of ice disintegrated within a few days due to mechanical instabilities of the ice masses triggered by climate warming.

Now, with ten years of observations using its Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR), Envisat has mapped an additional loss in Larsen B’s area of 1790 sq km over the past decade.

The Larsen Ice Shelf is a series of three shelves – A (the smallest), B and C (the largest) – that extend from north to south along the eastern side of the Peninsula.

Larsen A disintegrated in January 1995. Larsen C so far has been stable in area, but satellite observations have shown thinning and an increasing duration of melt events in summer.

“Ice shelves are sensitive to atmospheric warming and to changes in ocean currents and temperatures,” said Prof. Helmut Rott from the University of Innsbruck.

“The northern Antarctic Peninsula has been subject to atmospheric warming of about 2.5°C over the last 50 years – a much stronger warming trend than on global average, causing retreat and disintegration of ice shelves.”

Larsen B decreased in area from 11512 sq km in early January 1995 to 6664 sq km in February 2002 due to several calving events. The disintegration in March 2002 left behind only 3463 sq km. Today, Envisat shows that only 1670 sq km remain.

Envisat has already doubled its planned lifetime, but is scheduled to continue observations of Earth’s ice caps, land, oceans and atmosphere for at least another two years.

This ensures the continuity of crucial Earth-observation data until the next generation of satellites – the Sentinels – begin operations in 2013.

“Long-term systematic observations are of particular importance for understanding and modelling cryospheric processes in order to advance the predictive capabilities on the response of snow and ice to ,” said Prof. Rott.

“Climate models are predicting drastic warming for high latitudes. The Envisat observations of the Larsen Ice Shelf confirm the vulnerability of ice shelves to climatic warming and demonstrate the importance of ice shelves for the stability of glaciers upstream.

“These observations are very relevant for estimating the future behaviour of the much larger ice masses of West Antarctica if warming spreads further south.”

Radars on Earth observation satellites, such as Envisat’s ASAR, are particularly useful for monitoring polar regions because they can acquire images through clouds and darkness.

The Sentinel missions – being developed as part of Europe’s Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) programme – will continue the legacy of radar observations.

Researchers find evidence of banned antibiotics in poultry products

In a joint study, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Arizona State University found evidence suggesting that a class of previously banned by the U.S. government for production is still in use. Results of the study were published March 21 in Environmental Science & Technology.

The study, conducted by the Bloomberg School’s Center for a Livable Future and Arizona State’s Biodesign Institute, looked for drugs and other residues in feather meal, a common additive to chicken, swine, cattle and fish feed. The most important drugs found in the study were fluoroquinolones—broad spectrum antibiotics used to treat serious bac-terial infections in people, particularly those infections that have become resistant to old-er antibiotic classes. The banned drugs were found in 8 of 12 samples of feather meal in a multstate study. The findings were a surprise to scientists because fluoroquinolone use in U.S. poultry production was banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2005.

This is the first time investigators have examined feather meal, a byproduct of poultry production made from poultry feathers, to determine what drugs poultry may have received prior to their slaughter and sale.

The annual per capita human consumption of poultry products is approximately 100 lbs, greater than that of any other animal- or vegetable-derived protein source in the U.S. To satisfy this demand, each year, the U.S. poultry industry raises nearly 9 billion broiler chickens and 80 million turkeys, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A large percentage of the fresh weight of these animals is inedible—an estimated 33 percent for chickens, for example—and is recycled for other uses, including feather meal.

The rendering industry, which converts animal byproducts into a wide range of materials, processes poultry feathers into feather meal, which is often added as a supplement to poultry, pig, ruminant, and fish feeds or sold as an “organic” fertilizer. In a companion study, researchers found inorganic arsenic in feather meal used in retail fertilizers.

“The discovery of certain antibiotics in feather meal strongly suggests the continued use of these drugs, despite the ban put in place in 2005 by the FDA,” said David Love, PhD, lead author of the report. “The public health community has long been frustrated with the unwillingness of FDA to effectively address what antibiotics are fed to food animals.”

A primary reason for the 2005 FDA ban on the use of fluoroquinolones in poultry production was an alarming increase in the rate of the fluoroquinolone resistance among Campylobacter bacteria. “In recent years, we’ve seen the rate of fluoroquinolone re-sistance slow, but not drop,” noted study co-author Keeve Nachman, PhD, Farming for the Future Program Director at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. “With such a ban, you would expect a decline in resistance to these drugs. The continued use of fluoroquinolones and unintended antibiotic contamination of poultry feed may help ex-plain why high rates of fluoroquinolone-resistant Campylobacter continue to be found on commercial poultry meat products over half a decade after the ban.”

In the U.S., antibiotics are introduced into the feed and water of industrially raised poutry, primarily to make them grow faster, rather than to treat disease. An estimated 13.2 million kg of antibiotics were sold in 2009 to the U.S. poultry and livestock industries, which represented nearly 80 percent of all antibiotic sales for use in humans and animals in the U.S. that year.

In conducting the study, researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Arizona State University analyzed commercially available feather meal samples, acquired from six U.S. states and China, for a suite of 59 pharmaceuticals and personal care products. All 12 samples tested had between 2 and 10 antibiotic residues. In addition to antimicrobials, 7 other personal care products, including the pain reliever ac-etaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol), the antihistamine diphenhydramine (the active ingredient in Benadryl) and the antidepressant fluoxetine (the active ingredient in Prozac), were detected.

Researchers also found caffeine in 10 of 12 feather meal samples. “This study reveals yet another pathway of unwanted human exposure to a surprisingly broad spectrum of prescription and over the counter drugs,” noted study co-author Rolf Halden, PhD, PE, Co-Director of the Center for Health Information & Research, and Associate Director of the Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology at Arizona State University.

When researchers exposed several strains of E. coli bacteria to the concentrations of antibiotics found in the feather meal samples, they also discovered the drug residues could select for resistant bacteria. “A high enough concentration was found in one of the samples to select for bacteria that are resistant to drugs important to treat infections in humans,” noted Nachman.

“We strongly believe that the FDA should monitor what drugs are going into animal feed,” urged Nachman. “Based on what we’ve learned, I’m concerned that the new FDA guidance documents, which call for voluntary action from industry, will be ineffectual. By looking into feather meal, and uncovering a drug banned nearly 6 years ago, we have very little confidence that the food animal production industry can be left to regulate it-self.”