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1,800 Species of Microbial Organisms in Texas Cities' Air

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posted on Dec, 21 2006 @ 06:38 PM
A new "bacterial census" using a novel microarray found surprising microbial biodiversity - including bioweapons-related pathogens - in the air above San Antonio and Austin, Texas. "We're surrounded by bacteria, and they are not necessarily friendly," says Gary Andersen, a staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. J. Craig Venter of Celera fame is sequencing the metagenome of the air above New York City; he says microbial genetics is complex - and Andersen may be underestimating the microbial diversity in Texas air. "As weather patterns change, different things go up into the air. We could be changing what's in the air, and unless we know what's in the air now, we'll never know how it changes. It points to a real need for a microbial census," warns Ventner.
A bacterial census of the air above two Texas cities reveals striking microbial diversity, according to a report to be published this week by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition. Gary Andersen, a staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and colleagues used a novel microarray to detect some 1,800 different bacterial species -- including relatives of bioterror pathogens -- in the skies above San Antonio and Austin, Texas, revealing a level of diversity approaching that found in soil.

According to Andersen, the study arose out of the Department of Homeland Security's BioWatch program, an effort to monitor the skies over urban areas for signs of bioterrorism. After three years of monitoring, he said, DHS had detected nothing, despite several false-positives. "They wondered, what is the microbial background, and how does that background affect monitoring?" Andersen explained.

He and his team developed a novel microarray called the PhyloChip, which contains about 500,000 probes to detect the 16S ribosomal RNA signatures from 8,741 bacteria and archaea. They probed the chip with amplified 16S rRNA samples taken weekly from air filtration systems in both Austin and San Antonio, which are about 80 miles (128 km) apart, and found between 1,500 and 1,800 bacterial species above each city. Statistical analysis of the microbial populations showed that they varied with meteorological conditions like temperature, wind speed, and air pressure.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

VERY interesting that this research is being done now, and that results are being released.

Curious that bioweapons related pathogens have been found - and especially intriguing that we are being told about it.

Who knows? The "relatives of bioterror pathogens" might have escaped from a military lab, or they could be "natural."

But now we know they're out there.

Related News Links:

Related Discussion Threads:
Beyond Bird Flu: The Perfect Microbial Storm

[edit on 21-12-2006 by UM_Gazz]

[edit on 22/12/2006 by Mirthful Me]

posted on Dec, 21 2006 @ 07:11 PM
I remember reading an article about how the technology exists to produce Chemical / Bio Logical weapons that only effect the said targeted Human Race by specifying the DNA that different Human races have, for example a White person would have a particular DNA that is not shared with a Yellow person.

Maybe those Organisms up there are White killers, maybe they are whats causing huge declines in Infertility in Westerners ?

Scary World.

posted on Dec, 21 2006 @ 07:17 PM
I don't think organisms can be that specific with regards to race, but I may be wrong.

What is causing infertility is all the Oestrogen the women pump out into the water from their Pills and other hormone related things, such as HRT. That, we males drink and end up going a bit.....funny.

Having said that, I am as fertile as an Ox
..Preparing myself for the day when fertile men are in short supply
if you know what I mean

As for only 1800 different types, I am surprised it's not higher! They've done these sort of tests on the seats of the Tube trains in London and the results are scary!!

posted on Dec, 21 2006 @ 07:19 PM
Does anyone beleive that the bacteria humans are exposed to naturally possibly makes our immune system stronger? I hav not taken any kind of pharmaceutical meds in years, and am always outside and sometimes in some rather nasty places due to work. I have barely ever gotten sick in that time. Of course this is simply my opinion with zero scientific basis, but thats what I think. If I do get sick, I just work it off. I barely suffer a cold or something else for more than a day or two. I see other people stay like that for a week or longer. And that is that they be downing all kinds of meds and such.

Anyways, anthrax is a naturally occuring bacteria, so I would assume it is simply in the air naturally in such miniscule trace amounts as to be harmless. I will stay walk out every morning and take in my deep breath of fresh morning air despite this study.

posted on Dec, 21 2006 @ 07:28 PM
That is almost certainly true. Exposure to bacteria will render you immune if you fight off the illness. I personally, on the occasions I do get ill, will not take anti-bios or any other meds, but suffer the illness and get stronger.

On most occasions, when everyone else is ill, all I get is a swollen gland for a week and a snotty nose, showing my immune system is fighting the bugs.

Using anti-bios will make you better, but will not help your immune system.

posted on Dec, 21 2006 @ 09:09 PM

Originally posted by NumberCruncher

I remember reading an article about how the technology exists to produce Chemical / Bio Logical weapons that only effect the said targeted Human Race by specifying the DNA that different Human races have, for example a White person would have a particular DNA that is not shared with a Yellow person.

Yeah - it's been done - and maybe we'll get confirmation in one of those million+ secret documents being declassified.

BUT - organisms mutate, and nobody, not even the US military, can control what they do once they're loose in the world.

So yeah, even though there are organisms that were supposed to be race-specific, they mutate into strains that aren't. Might take a while, but it happens.

Sucks, don't it?


[edit on 21-12-2006 by soficrow]

posted on Dec, 22 2006 @ 04:20 AM

Originally posted by DYepes
Does anyone beleive that the bacteria humans are exposed to naturally possibly makes our immune system stronger?

Absolutly , a study conducted in Germany and the UK condluded that , rather counter intuitivly that children who spent thier first 5 years in rural homes , exposed to animals , hi pollen levels ect , and did not have any exposure to anti boitics in te first 2 years

had significantly lower ashma rates than city dwelling children who had a " clean " environment and " better " healthcare

i only saw it refferenced on a teevee prog , but i will dig out a cite

posted on Dec, 22 2006 @ 05:01 AM
I used to live in an Austin suburb and my allergies were hell, which is one reason I moved. Currently I have a relative of mine living in Austin who in the past never complained about allergies, but is now telling me that his allergies suddenly flared up for whatever reason. I wonder if there's a link to that.

posted on Dec, 22 2006 @ 09:42 AM
I am originally from Austin, and I always dread (like my flight today) going home to visit the family. On the east coast I have not a single allergy. I go home to Austin and I wake up with a blood stained pillow from a nose bleed.

Another, more graphic example, At Austin City Limits Music Festival this October, The Brian Kweller Band's front man got a nose bleed on stage, says "I always heard Austin was the most allergenic city in the U.S.," and proceeded to ask the women in the audience for "feminine hygiene" products which begin to rain down upon the stage. Needless to say he stuffs one in each nostril and continues to rock out.

Definitely makes me curious though, I never gave any serious thought to it being anything other than Cedar and Mold allergies.

posted on Dec, 22 2006 @ 10:10 AM

The Governing Council of the American Public Health Association (APHA) approved the following measures during its 134th Annual Meeting in Boston, Nov. 4-8.

- 20065 Potential Risks of Nanotechnology - Addresses the potential environmental and occupational health and safety risks of nanotechnology as well as the design and manipulation of atomic materials. Urges Congress and federal agencies to substantially increase funding for environmental and occupational health and safety surrounding nanotechnology. Urges manufacturers to voluntarily adopt safeguards. Urges federal agencies to develop regulations and standards if needed.

- LB-06-01 Prevention and Control of Multidrug-Resistant Organisms - Encourages and promotes rigorous infection prevention and control practices in health care settings. Stresses the need for health care quality and standards-setting organizations to create additional infection prevention and control standards, alerts and patient safety goals focused on multidrug-resistant organism prevention, identification and control.

I am particularly curious about nano-bio-bots lately.

Nano-bio-bots are interesting little critters - self-replicating organisms that are part biological, part robot. My questions:

Can nano-bio-bots cross-breed with natural organisms?

What happens if self-replicating nano-bio-bots cross-breed with multidrug-resistant organisms?

Do organic particulates in the air provide an adequate medium for growth? That is, does air have enough nutrition for airborne microbe colonies to grow in?

posted on Dec, 27 2006 @ 03:00 PM

"Before this study, no one had a sense of the diversity of the microbes in the air," says lead author Gary Andersen of Berkeley Lab's Earth Sciences Division.

The research, which will be published this week in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, serves two purposes. It paves the way for regional bacterial censuses that will help a Department of Homeland Security bioterrorism surveillance program differentiate between normal and suspicious fluctuations in airborne pathogens. It will also help scientists establish a baseline of airborne microbes, which they can use to track how climate change affects bacterial populations.

"We need to determine what's in the air, so we can determine how climate change affects microbial diversity," says Andersen. "We found that there are a lot of airborne bacteria, including pathogens, which we did not know are out there."


The air you breathe is loaded with microbes

In the past, scientists relied on bacterial cultures to identify microbes in air samples. This approach, however, can't pick up organisms unable to survive in the culture, which can be up to 99 percent of the bacteria in a sample.

Instead, Andersen and his colleagues used a DNA micro-array to probe air samples for a gene involved in producing a protein, called 16S rRNA, that is found in all bacteria. Called the "PhyloChip," the quarter-size device [image] can detect up to 9,000 unique versions of this gene, each one belonging to a different type of bacteria.

A global census of airborne bacteria wouldalso allow scientists to better track the effects of climate change on microbial populations in the atmosphere. For example, scientists have recently linked wind-blown dust from Africa's Sahara desert that reaches North America to increases in asthma in the Caribbean.


Wind-blown dust from the expanding Sahara Desert reaches far out into the Atlantic Ocean

The team also determined that location was not as strong a source of microbial variation as time and weather. Specifically, the time of the year during the 17-week testing period was the most significant source of variation, followed by atmospheric conditions. For example, warmer and dryer conditions led to increased amounts of spore-forming bacteria.

"This information may help explain temporal spikes, which is important in bioterror surveillance," adds Eoin Brodie, also with Berkeley Lab’s Earth Sciences Division. "A spike may not be due to a biological attack, but to normal weather fluctuations that draw bacteria up from their natural reservoir."

[edit on 27-12-2006 by soficrow]

posted on Jan, 8 2007 @ 03:54 PM

Bird deaths shut down downtown Austin

As many as 60 dead pigeons, sparrows and grackles were found overnight along Congress Avenue, a main route through downtown. No human injuries or illnesses were reported.

"We do not feel there is a threat to the public health," said Adolfo Valadez, the medical director for Austin and Travis County Health and Human Services.

He said preliminary air-quality tests showed no dangerous chemicals, though the dead birds would be sent for further testing to rule out viruses or poison.

Regenmacher once posted a gorgeous graphic showing a miner with a canary in a cage under a polluted sky...

Seems to fit here.

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