New appointments to the Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts Advisory Board

Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts is pleased to announce the appointment of our new Advisory Board members

  Alexandria Boehm is a Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Stanford. Her primary research areas are coastal water quality and sanitation with a focus on waterborne pathogens. Her work is focused on key problems in both, developed and developing countries with the overarching goal of designing and testing novel interventions and technologies for reducing the burden of waterborne disease.


   
  Philip Gschwend is a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT. His research focuses on environmental organic chemistry, including phase exchanges and transformation processes, modeling fates of organic pollutants, roles of colloids and black carbons and passive sampling for site evaluation.


  Andreas Kappler is professor for geomicrobiology at the University of Tübingen, Germany, and his main research is the biogeochemical cycle of iron and the consequences for the fate of pollutants and trace metals in modern environments as well as the consequences for rock formation on early Earth.
  Karen Kidd is based at the University of New Brunswick, Canada. Her research interests focus on fate and effects of contaminants in aquatic food webs.


   
  Lindsey Marr is a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech. She is interested in characterizing the emissions, fate, and transport of air pollutants in order to provide the scientific basis for improving air quality and health.


  Junji Cao is the Director of the Key Laboratory of Aerosol Chemistry and Physics and the Vice President of the Institute of Earth Environment at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. His work encompasses three main strands – carbonaceous aerosol chemistry, atmospheric chemistry and urban atmospheric pollution.

 

  Urs Baltensperger is the Head of the Laboratory of Atmospheric Chemistry at the Paul Scherrer Institute. His work focuses on aerosol science and technology.


  Beate Escher is the Head of the Department of Cell Toxicology at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research. Her research interests focus on mode-of-action based environmental risk assessment, including methods for initial hazard screening and risk assessment of pharmaceuticals, pesticides, disinfection by-products and persistent organic pollutants with an emphasis on mixtures.


  Derek Muir is a Senior Research Scientist and Section Head at the Environment and Climate Change Canada. His work aims to develop knowledge on the distribution, fate and bioaccumulation of priority substances in order to provide policy- and decision-makers with information to make sound decisions on assessment and management of chemicals.


  Jasquelin Peña is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Geoscience and Environment at the University of Lausanne. Her research is aimed at improving the environmental quality of soils and waters impacted by metal pollution.


  Kathrin Fenner is a Senior Scientist in the Department of Environmental Chemistry at Eawag. The goal of her research is to develop more accurate methods to assess persistence and risk from transformation product formation in regulatory risk assessment procedures. Her work focuses on three main strands – prediction of biodegradation pathways and rates, hazard and risk assessment of transformation products and improved tools for persistence assessment.


  David Waite is a Scientia Professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Dean of Research in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of New South Wales. His biogeochemical work aims to improve our understanding of natural aquatic systems and enables us to i) prevent environmental degradation and ii) develop appropriate solutions to challenges such as provision of water supply and improving human health.


 
Sachchida Nand (Sachi) Tripathi
is a Rajeeva and Sangeeta Lahri Chair Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering & Department of Earth Sciences at the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur. His research focuses on the chemical, microphysical and optical properties of aerosols.
  Stuart Harrad is a Professor of Environmental Chemistry at the University of Birmingham. His research addresses all aspects of the environmental sources, fate and behaviour of persistent organic pollutants (POPs). He has particular interests in human exposure to POPs with a focus on indoor pathways. He is also active in research that explores the environmental forensics utility of chirality.


  Jian-Ying Hu is a Professor of Urban and Environmental Science at the Peking University. Her work focuses on the occurrence and fate of environmental contaminants, toxicology mainly for endocrine disrupting chemicals and health/ecological risk assessment.

Also appointed but not pictured:

Ruben Kretzschmar is a Full Professor of Soil Chemistry and head of the Institute of Biogeochemistry and Pollutant Dynamics, Department of Environmental Sciences at ETH Zurich. His current work focuses on the biogeochemistry of metals and metalloids in periodically flooded or water-saturated soils, such as contaminated river floodplains and irrigated rice paddies.

 

Also of interest: Read some of the high-impact research authored by our new Advisory Board members in Environmental Science: Processes & impacts using the links below:

Steroidal estrogen sources in a sewage-impacted coastal ocean
David R. Griffith, Melissa C. Kido Soule, Timothy I. Eglinton, Elizabeth B. Kujawinski and   Philip M. Gschwend
Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2016, 18, 981-991
DOI: 10.1039/C6EM00127K

Sorption selectivity of birnessite particle edges: a d-PDF analysis of Cd(II) and Pb(II) sorption by δ-MnO2 and ferrihydrite
Case M. van Genuchten and Jasquelin Peña
Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2016, 18, 1030-1041
DOI: 10.1039/C6EM00136J

Highly time resolved chemical characterization of submicron organic aerosols at a polluted urban location
Bharath Kumar, Abhishek Chakraborty, S. N. Tripathi and Deepika Bhattu
Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2016, 18, 1285-1296
DOI: 10.1039/C6EM00392C

Emerging halogenated flame retardants and hexabromocyclododecanes in food samples from an e-waste processing area in Vietnam
Fang Tao, Hidenori Matsukami, Go Suzuki, Nguyen Minh Tue, Pham Hung Viet, Hidetaka Takigami and Stuart Harrad
Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2016, 18, 361-370,
DOI: 10.1039/C5EM00593K

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Novel isolate of Sphingopyxis sp. and its cyanotoxin degradation activity

a blog article by Luiza Cruz, PhD student at Imperial College London

Cyanotoxins are often found in surface waters worldwide. If contaminated water is consumed, they can bioaccumulate in the liver and cause death in high doses. They can also poison other animals and plants, causing a real threat to life and increasing the potential of disruption in drinking water supply in affected areas.  Among all cyanotoxins, microcystin (MC) is the most studied. Herein, Maghsoudi and colleagues report a new bacterium isolate that degrade these toxins and present a study on some factors involved on its biodegradation activity.

MCs are small cyclic toxins composed of seven peptides and, as a result of structural variation, 89 analogues have been identified to date. Their hepatotoxicity is due to the presence of the unique amino acid, Adda, in their structure. They are resistant to enzymatic and physico-chemical breakdown owing to their small cyclic structure. However, they can be biodegraded by a few genus of bacteria.

The majority of studies that have focused on MC degradation have identified Sphingomonas sp as the most common degrades.  Among these, the gene mlrA encodes the enzyme responsible for cleaving the peptide bond between arginine and Adda and, therefore, causing the breaking down of the cyclic structure. However, different peptides that do not carry the arginine-Adda bond are also degraded by bacteria from the genus Sphingomonas. This indicates that different pathways may be involved in biodegradation. Using modern sequencing methods, Maghsoudi and colleagues also sought to identify and determine the role of theses genes in different MC variants.

The group collected samples of water from the Missisquoi Bay, Quebec, Canada, where several cyanobacterial blooms have been observed. A total of 22 strains were isolated with the ability to degrade cyanotoxins and, among these, four were able to degrade all MC variants (MCLR, YR, LY, LW and LF). Moreover, sequencing analysis showed that one of the isolates (MB-E) demonstrated 99% identity with the Sphingopyxis genus.

Following this finding, a next generation sequencing method was used for analysing the mlr gene cluster of the new strain. Results showed that organisation of mlr genes in this cluster is identical to those of several Sphingomonas strains that degrade MCs. Results also revealed that transcription of the mlrA gene is triggered by the presence of microcystin in the medium and that the same pathway is used in the biodegradation of all MC variants. This was the first time that this new sequencing method was used to characterise the genome of MC degraders.

Moreover, pH-dependent biodegradation is thought to be the determinant factor in the fate and disappearance of these toxins. However, limited information is known about the correlation of dynamic changes in pH and cyanotoxin degradation. Using MB-E, biodegradation was observed at pH values between 6.10 and 8.05. The highest biodegradation rate was observed at pH 7.22 and data showed that MB-E was not able to grow under basic conditions. Considering that cyanobacterial blooms are often associated with a high pH (between 8.5 and 11), MB-E may have had limited biodegradation activity in the bay. However, MB-E was still able to degrade toxins at pH 9.12, that is closer to the pH of drinking water during cyanobacterial blooms.

In summary, using new sequencing methods, Maghsoudi and colleagues proved that gene expression profile of a new isolate that exhibit microcystin biodegradation is identical to Sphingopyxis sp, a novel result. Moreover, further studies on dynamic pH changes during cyanobacterial blooms might be useful in providing insight into the persistence and biodegradation activity of MB-E in drinking waters.

To read the full article for free* click the link below:
Cyanotoxin degradation activity and mlr gene expression profiles of a Sphingopyxis sp. isolated from Lake Champlain, Canada
Ehsan Maghsoudi, Nathalie Fortin, Charles Greer, Christine Maynard, Antoine Pagé, Sung Vo Duy, Sébastien Sauvé, Michèle Prévost and Sarah Dorner
Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2016, 18, 1417-1426
DOI: 10.1039/C6EM00001K

—————-

About the webwriter

Luiza Cruz is a PhD student in the Barrett Group at Imperial College London. Her work is towards the development of new medicines, using medicinal and natural products chemistry.

—————-

*Access is free until 08/02/2017 through a registered publishing personal account.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Quantifying UK carbon reduction potential

Written for Chemistry World by Rebecca Brodie

With 2016 set to become the warmest year on record, global warming has never been more prominent in the news. Researchers have found that scientifically viable carbon capture and reduction technologies could reduce the UK’s carbon footprint by 8–32%.

This year the UK signed up to the Paris climate agreement, which aims to limit global temperature increases to below 2°C compared with pre-industrial temperatures. One way to start meeting this agreement is for the UK to aim for net zero CO2 emissions through the use of negative emissions technologies (NETs) – these include methods to capture CO2 either directly from the air of before it is released from fossil fuel emissions, planting trees and creating forests, accelerating natural geological weathering to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, changing agricultural practices and land use, and binding CO2 in the form of biochar.

Negative emission technologies

Carbon dioxide flows among atmospheric, land, ocean and geological reservoirs for different negative emission technologies. Source: © Royal Society of Chemistry

Pete Smith, from the University of Aberdeen, UK, and colleagues have assessed the impact that UK-based NETs could have on reducing the country’s CO2emission levels. Smith’s team discovered that if the UK implemented all possible NETs, regardless of their technical viability, it would reduce current emissions by 8–32%. However, the actual proportion of this potential that can be realised might be smaller than this; factors such as cost, energy requirements, environmental impact and public acceptance will all affect these technologies’ viability.

Read the full article in Chemistry World.


Pete Smith, R. Stuart Haszeldine and Stephen M. Smith
DOI: 10.1039/C6EM00386A
Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Introducing our new Editorial Board Member – Marianne Glasius

Marianne Glasius joins the Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts team as Editorial Board Member

We are delighted to introduce Marianne Glasius as a new Editorial Board Member for Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts. Marianne joins the team as an Editorial Board Member, and will start her role as Associate Editor from January 2017.


Marianne will be joining Liang-Hong Guo, Helen Hsu-Kim, Edward Kolodziej, Matthew MacLeod and Paul Tratnyek as Associate Editors handling submissions to the journal.

Marianne Glasius is Associate Professor at the Department of Chemistry at Aarhus University, Denmark (since 2006), where she is also affiliated with the Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center and the Arctic Research Centre. She received her Ph.D. in Chemistry from University of Southern Denmark in 2000. During her studies she stayed at the European Commissions Joint Research Centre, Ispra, Italy for a year. Dr. Glasius was a scientist and senior scientist at the National Environmental Research Institute, Denmark for six years. Recently, she visited University of California, Berkeley for one year, working with Prof. A.H. Goldstein at the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management.

The research of Dr. Glasius focuses on development and application of advanced chemical analyses for identification and characterization of organic compounds in complex matrices. The aim is to obtain understanding of processes whether these involve atmospheric aerosols affecting air pollution and climate, or development of bio-fuels of the future.



———-

Please join us in welcoming Marianne to Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts.

Interested in the latest news, research and events of the Environmental Science journals? Find us on Twitter:@EnvSciRSC

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Major society chemistry publishers jointly commit to integration with ORCID

ORCID provides an identifier for individuals to use with their name as they engage in research, scholarship and innovation activities, ensuring authors gain full credit for their work.

Today, we signed their open letter, along with ACS Publications, committing to unambiguous identification of all authors that publish in our journals.

image block
The Royal Society of Chemistry and the Publications Division of the American Chemical Society (ACS) today each became signatories to the ORCID Open Letter, reasserting the commitment of both organizations to enhancing the scholarly publishing experience for researchers worldwide who are involved in chemistry and allied fields.

The commitment by these two global chemistry publishers to undertake new workflow integration with technology infrastructure provided by ORCID, a not-for-profit organization that provides unique identifiers for researchers and scholars, will enable both societies to provide unambiguous designation of author names within chemistry and across the broader sciences. This partnership with ORCID will resolve ambiguity in researcher identification caused by name changes, cultural differences in name presentation, and the inconsistent use of name abbreviations that is too often a source of confusion for those who must rely on the published scientific record.

By becoming signatories to the ORCID Open Letter, these two major chemical societies are voicing their intent to collect ORCID iDs for all submitting authors through use of the ORCID API, and to display such identifiers in the articles published in their respective society journals. The integration of such activities within the publishers’ workflows means authors will benefit from automated linkages between their ORCID record and unique identifiers embedded within their published research articles, ensuring their contributions are appropriately recognized and credited.

During the publishing process, ACS and the Royal Society of Chemistry will automatically deposit publications to Crossref, which in turn will coordinate with ORCID to link and update the publishing activity populated to authors’ respective ORCID profiles, thus attributing each published work to the correct researcher. Existing holders of an ORCID iD will encounter a one-time prompt to grant permission for the linkage. If authors do not have an ORCID iD, they can easily enroll without navigating away from the publishers’ manuscript submission site. If users wish to revoke integrated ORCID profile access at any time, they can elect to do so through their ACS, Royal Society of Chemistry or ORCID accounts.

Both ACS Publications and the Royal Society of Chemistry understand the importance of attributing accurately the scholarly contributions of research scientists in the context of their other professional activities. “ACS has supported ORCID since the outset of the initiative,” says Sarah Tegen, Ph.D., Vice President of Global Editorial & Author Services at ACS Publications. “We are pleased now to align with the Royal Society of Chemistry in this endeavor, as both societies underscore our willingness not only to encourage and assist our respective authors in establishing their unique ORCID profiles, but also to help tackle the broader challenge of researcher name disambiguation in the scholarly literature. With the integration of author ORCID iDs in our publishing workflows, we will ensure that researchers receive proper credit for their accomplishments.”

Emma Wilson, Ph.D., Director of Publishing at the Royal Society of Chemistry adds, “We have been a supporter of ORCID since 2013, recognizing the benefits it brings to researchers; ORCID can and will make a huge difference to our authors’ ability to gain full credit for their work. ORCID will also help researchers meet the requirements of their research funders — for example, a number of funders have already announced that all grant applicants must now include a researcher’s ORCID iD. A unified system that integrates and links research-related information with accurate and timely linkage to the publishing output of authors has the potential to simplify and speed up their grant applications — something we know is important to researchers.”

“The ACS and the Royal Society of Chemistry have been long-standing supporters of ORCID,” says Laurel Haak, Ph.D., Executive Director, ORCID. “We are pleased to see ORCID integration into ACS and Royal Society of Chemistry Publications systems. This will be a substantial benefit to researchers in the chemistry community, both in improving search and discovery of research articles, and for attribution and recognition of researchers’ contributions to the discipline.”

About the American Chemical Society and ACS Publications

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With nearly 157,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

ACS Publications, a division of the American Chemical Society, is a nonprofit scholarly publisher of 50 peer-reviewed journals and a range of eBooks at the interface of chemistry and allied sciences, including physics and biology. ACS Publications journals are among the most-cited, most-trusted and most-read within the scientific literature. Respected for their editorial rigor, ACS journals offer high-quality service to authors and readers, including rapid time to publication, a range of channels for researchers to access ACS Publications’ award-winning web and mobile delivery platforms, and a comprehensive program of open access publishing options for authors and their funders. ACS Publications also publishes Chemical & Engineering News — the Society’s newsmagazine covering science and technology, business and industry, government and policy, education and employment aspects of the chemistry field.

About the Royal Society of Chemistry

The Royal Society of Chemistry is the world’s leading chemistry community, advancing excellence in the chemical sciences. With over 50,000 members and a knowledge business that spans the globe, we are the U.K.’s professional body for chemical scientists; a not-for-profit organisation with 175 years of history and an international vision for the future. We promote, support and celebrate chemistry. We work to shape the future of the chemical sciences — for the benefit of science and humanity.

About ORCID

ORCID’s vision is a world where all who participate in research, scholarship and innovation are uniquely identified and connected to their contributions across disciplines, borders and time. ORCID provides an identifier for individuals to use with their name as they engage in research, scholarship and innovation activities. It provides open tools that enable transparent and trustworthy connections between researchers, their contributions and affiliations. The organization provides this service to help people find information and to simplify reporting and analysis. ORCID is a not-for-profit organization, sustained by fees from member organizations. Its work is open, transparent and non-proprietary. The organization strives to be a trusted component of research infrastructure with the goal of providing clarity in the breadth of research contributions and the people who make them.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

What to expect from Negative Emission Technologies (NETs) in the UK

a blog article by Luiza Cruz, PhD student at Imperial College London

As the Paris climate deal takes legal effect, it is necessary to assess the technical aspects and challenges to limit the global temperature increase. Given the problems in completely eliminating greenhouse gases (GHGs) emissions from human activities, one of the possible solutions is using Negative Emission Technologies (NETs) as a way of compensating for those emissions. As the UK has recently stated a target of net zero emission, Smith and colleagues took on a preliminary assessment of land-based NETs in this country in order to estimate their potential and impact.

There are a number of ways negative emissions could compensate for CO2 emissions:

1) Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS), using crops to extract CO2 and then burning them for energy and sequestering the result emissions, thought to hold the most potential to bring down CO2 levels

2) Direct Air Capture of CO2 (DAC) from ambient air and either burying it underground or using it in chemical processes

3) Enhanced Weathering of minerals (EW), by spreading pulverised rocks onto soils to increase the natural weathering process that takes up CO2

4) Afforestation and Reforestation (AR)

5) Soil Carbon Sequestration (SCS), which uses modern farming methods to reverse past losses of soil carbon and sequester CO2

6) Biochar, that converts biomass into biochar for use as soil amendment

Smith and colleagues considered the use of UK land specifically and only technical aspects of these technologies. Other factors, e.g. of a socio-political nature, were not considered and are thought to lower the potential of the NETs considerably.

Regarding land availability, BECCS and AR use land that can no longer be used for food production, assumed to be 1.5 Mha. The same value is assumed for biochar, since growing feedstock for it cannot be done in the same land used for food. SCS and EW can be practised on land without changing its use, here assumed to be 8.5 Mha. Finally, DAC has no land footprint so it is not constrained by land availability.

Negative emission potential for BECCS, AR and biochar are 4.5‒18, 5.1 and 1.73‒11.25 Mt C eq. per year, respectively. SCS would deliver 0.255‒8.5 Mt C eq. per year and the combined potential for EW would be 22.5 Mt C per year. DAC is compared at the same level of BECCS, i.e. 4.5‒18 Mt C eq. per year.

In the UK, total emissions of GHGs are equal to an average of 153 Mt C eq. per year. Considering that not all NETs can be applied at the same time and assuming no interaction between practices, the maximum aggregate potential of land-based NETs is estimated to be 12‒49 Mt C eq. per year (BECCS plus SCS plus EW). This represents only 8‒32% of current UK GHGs emissions.  DAC, however, could increase this number further.

This maximum aggregate potential is limited by a number of factors, including cost, energy, environmental and socio-political constraints. More studies are needed to fully understand and hopefully overcome the barriers to implementation and reach the target of net zero emission.

To read the full article for free* click the link below:

Pete Smith, R. Stuart Haszeldine and Stephen M. Smith
Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2016, 18, 1400-1405
DOI: 10.1039/C6EM00386A

—————-

About the webwriter

Luiza Cruz is a PhD student in the Barrett Group at Imperial College London. Her work is towards the development of new medicines, using medicinal and natural products chemistry.

—————-

*Access is free until 23/12/2016 through a registered publishing personal account.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Top 10 Reviewers for Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts

In celebration of Peer Review Week, with the theme of Recognition for Review – we would like to highlight the top 10 reviewers for Environmental Science: Processes& Impacts in 2016, as selected by the editor for their significant contribution to the journal.

Name Institution
Dr Douglas Latch Seattle University
Dr Hans Peter Arp Norwegian Geotechnical Institute
Dr Christina Remucal University of Wisconsin
Dr Dong-Mei Zhou Institute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Dr Zhanyun Wang ETH Zürich
Dr Stefan Trapp Technical University of Denmark
Dr Thilo Rennert University of Hohenheim
Dr Birgit Braune Carleton University
Dr Barbara Ervens National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
Dr Crispin Halsall Lancaster University

We would like to say a massive thank you to these reviewers as well as the Environmental Science: Processes&Impacts board and all of the environmental chemistry community for their continued support of the journal, as authors, reviewers and readers.

Keep an eye on our Environmental Science: Nano and Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology blogs where the top 10 reviewers for each journal will be revealed.

Review to win!
As a little added bonus to celebrate Peer Review Week, for the next four weeks our reviewers will be in with a chance of winning a fantastic prize! Simply submit a review for any of our journals between 19 September and 16 October 2016 and you will be automatically eligible for a chance to win one of our fantastic prizes.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Bacteria go on a DIET

Probably not the type of diet you are thinking of. It has something to do with food, though. I am talking about the transfer mechanisms some bacteria use to share metabolites between them, and also with bacteria of different species. In this review published in Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts, two researchers from North Carolina analyse the latest discoveries in this field, specifically in mechanisms known as DIET: “direct interspecies electron transfer”.

Scientists discovered DIET not a decade ago. Before that, only conventional diffusion models were known: an organism generated an excess of certain metabolite, released it to the surrounding media and was consumed by a second organism. This is called “mediated interspecies electron transfer” (MIET).

DIET, however, is more efficient. Instead of releasing the metabolites around, bacteria use structures that allow them to transfer chemical substances directly to other cells. These structures, usually filamentous pili full of conductive cytochromes, act as nanowires that connect bacteria to one another. However, because DIET is a form of electron transfer, sometimes proteins are not needed at all and actual electric cables may be used. When pili and cytochromes are removed in genetically engineered bacteria, they can use metal, metal oxides (such as magnetite) or activated carbon as connections. Sometimes bacteria prefer this cables to their own traditional methods: in some experiments, scientists showed that bacteria will rather connect to carbon than to other cells, probably due to the higher electric conductivity.

Nowadays we use multicellular bacterial communities in a wide variety of industrial systems from sewage treatment to energy production. Understanding how DIET interactions work is key to improve the effectiveness of these processes and will allow us to have a better control. Who knows, maybe some day DIET will lead into building intelligent bacterial circuits, the same way years ago silicon allowed us to create microchips.

Read the Critical Review for free* today:

Hardwiring microbes via direct interspecies electron transfer: mechanisms and applications
Qiwen Cheng and Douglas F. Call
Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2016,18, 968-980
DOI: 10.1039/C6EM00219F

*Access is free until 23/09/2016 through a registered publishing personal account.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Closing the window on air pollution

Written by Emma Turner for Chemistry World

Graphical abstractSwitching off fans and closing car windows can minimise drivers’ exposure to harmful particles.

Sitting in traffic is bad for your lungs, but closing your car windows and switching off the fans can minimise the amount of micro-size pollution particles you breathe, scientists from the UK found.
Air pollution is a major health risk. The World Health Organization estimates that it caused 3.7 million premature deaths in 2012. Last year, a group led by Prashant Kumar from the University of Surrey, UK, showed that drivers stuck at traffic lights are exposed to 29 times more harmful pollution particles than those driving in free flowing traffic.

Switching off fans and closing car windows can minimise drivers’ exposure to harmful particles
Sitting in traffic is bad for your lungs, but closing your car windows and switching off the fans can minimise the amount of micro-size pollution particles you breathe, scientists from the UK found.
Air pollution is a major health risk. The World Health Organization estimates that it caused 3.7 million premature deaths in 2012. Last year, a group led by Prashant Kumar from the University of Surrey, UK, showed that drivers stuck at traffic lights are exposed to 29 times more harmful pollution particles than those driving in free flowing traffic.

Read the full article in Chemistry World.


Concentration dynamics of coarse and fine particulate matter at and around signalised traffic intersections
Prashant Kumar and Anju Goel
Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2016, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C6EM00215C, Paper

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Ideas towards the eradication of diarrheal diseases in poor countries

a blog article by Luiza Cruz, PhD student at Imperial College London

Diarrheal disease is the second leading cause of death in children under five years, killing almost 800,000 children every year. A combination of different causes, such as poor hygiene conditions and malnutrition, make low and middle income countries more susceptible to the disease. In recent years, there has been a successful campaign to decrease this high mortality rate, from almost 2.5 million deaths in the year 2000, representing a decrease of 70 to 80%. However, the amount of diarrheal episodes, or morbidity, is still very high. Taking into consideration the problems in decreasing the morbidity, Timothy R. Julian brings a perspective emphasizing the interventions that would be most effective at reducing the burden of diarrheal disease.

The vast majority of diarrheal episodes is caused by pathogens, notably rotavirus, norovirus, E. coli, Shighella spp and Cryptosporidium spp. These present different dose-response relationship, with some being more likely to infect a child after exposure (Figure 1).  According to these estimates, a great decrease in exposure is often need to reduce the probability of infection and therefore interventions should focus on minimising children exposure to the pathogens.

Figure 1. Median estimates for dose-relationship for common diarrheal pathogens.

As data regarding quantitative pathogen and human-environment interaction data is sparse, scientists often use proxy measures, like human feces equivalents, to estimate exposure risks. For example, probability of infection is calculated using the HID50 (the pathogen dose at which there is a 50% likelihood of infection) and the shedding rate (eq. 1). Estimates for environmental contamination is also presented (eq. 2).

Diarrheal disease pathogens – E. coli organisms are usually divided into two categories: enterotoxigenic (ETEC) and enteropathogenic (EPEC). Infectivity is usually strain specific and it is in general relatively low, with HID50s ranging from 105 to 108 cells for ETEC and 105 to 107 cells for EPEC, corresponding to 0.001 to 10 g and 0.01 to 1 g of feces of an infected person, respectively. Despite being similar to E. Coli, Shigella spp are more infective, presenting an HID50 of around 103 cells, which corresponds to 0.01 to 1 g of infected feces. The protozoal pathogens Cryptosporidium spp are highly infective, with an HID50 as low as 9 oocysts (10-1 to 10-5 of the amount of feces shed in a day during infection). With high shedding and high infectivity rates, rotavirus is arguably the most important enteric pathogen: the HID50 is 6 focus-forming units (FFU), equivalent to only 10-3 to 10-9 g feces of an infected person. Different from rotavirus (endemic), norovirus is characterised by its role in epidemic outbreaks. Its HID50 is 1320 genome equivalents for susceptible people (some people are naturally resistant), which corresponds to 10-4 to 10-5 g of infected feces.

Environmental transmission – The routes of transmission can be explained using the F-diagram (Figure 2). The diagram connects six environmental reservoirs for the pathogens. Interactions between infected feces and these reservoirs (through human, animal and natural processes) and subsequent interactions between the reservoirs and susceptible people result in infections.

Figure 2. The F-diagram showing the complex transmission pathways of diarrheal diseases.

With 23% of the global population using unsafe water, this reservoir is arguably the most important route of exposure to the most important pathogens (all of them have been detected in stored drinking water in LMICs), especially for rotavirus, norovirus and Cryptosporidium spp, due to the high infectivity of these.

Food is also an efficient transmission pathway, especially for bacterial pathogens that can grow in these environments. Fecal bacterial is frequently detected on hands on LMICs, posing both a direct and indirect route of transmission. Flies are important due to their interactions with both feces and food. Fields (referring to crops and soil) are primarily an intermediate reservoir, but also play a role in copraphagy and geophagy in some regions. Finally, fomites are extensively contaminated with infected feces in LMICs, contributing to the ubiquity of the pathogens throughout a household and other environments.

Perspective – Having in mind the multiple factors involved in the transmission of diarrheal pathogens (for example, etiology, infectivity, fecal shedding rate, reservoirs, human-reservoirs-nature interactions and sanitation) and that these are most likely region/site/country specific, it is important to combine interventions to interrupt simultaneously all the relevant transmission routes. For bacterial agents, reducing geophagy, prevention of growth in food and fly control could be effective in reducing exposure and therefore infection. Cryptosporidium spp and norovirus are more difficult to control due to high shedding and infectivity rates. A combination of fecal management, water and hygiene control and limited contact with infected people would be necessary. Unfortunately, rotavirus is almost impossible to control, with vaccination, nutrition and health care being the current focus to delay infection until after the first year of the child, when the mortality is reduced.

With multiple and specific interventions is therefore possible to successfully achieve great reductions in the burden of diarrheal diseases in LMICs and maybe reach eradication in the future.

To read the full Open Access article, click the link below:
Environmental transmission of diarrheal pathogens in low and middle income countries
Timothy R. Julian
Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2016,18, 944-955
DOI: 10.1039/C6EM00222F

—————-

About the webwriter

Luiza Cruz is a PhD student in the Barrett Group at Imperial College London. Her work is towards the development of new medicines, using medicinal and natural products chemistry.

—————-

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)