Navigation Links
Disease-causing strains of Fusarium prevalent in plumbing drains
Date:12/21/2011

A study examining the prevalence of the fungus Fusarium in bathroom sink drains suggests that plumbing systems may be a common source of human infections.

In the first extensive survey of its kind, researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences sampled nearly 500 sink drains from 131 buildings -- businesses, homes, university dormitories and public facilities -- in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and California.

They analyzed fungal DNA to compare the spectrum of Fusarium species and sequence types found in drains with those recovered from human infections.

The study identified at least one Fusarium isolate in 66 percent of the drains and in 82 percent of the buildings. About 70 percent of those isolates came from the six sequence types of Fusarium most frequently associated with human infections.

"With about two-thirds of sinks found to harbor Fusarium, it's clear that those buildings' inhabitants are exposed to these fungi on a regular basis," said lead investigator Dylan Short, who recently completed his doctorate in plant pathology. "This strongly supports the hypothesis that plumbing-surface biofilms serve as reservoirs for human pathogenic fusaria."

The researcherrs published their results in the December issue of the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.

Fusarium may be best known for causing a variety of diseases in agricultural crops. In Pennsylvania, Fusarium diseases of grains and greenhouse crops are of particular concern. Fusarium species also produce mycotoxins in association with plants, causing a direct health threat to animals and humans that eat the plants.

Some species of Fusarium also cause opportunistic and sometimes fatal infections in humans, typically entering the body through wounds or trauma, via catheters and intravenous devices or by introduction of a biofilm to the eye. While relatively rare, Fusarium infections can be difficult to treat because of the organism's resistance to many antifungal drugs. Those most at risk are individuals with weak or compromised immune systems.

In one high-profile case, Fusarium was found to have caused a widely publicized 2005-06 outbreak of fungal keratitis -- infection of the cornea -- among contact-lens wearers.

"In the recent outbreaks of fungal keratitis in Southeast Asia and North America connected to contact-lens use, plumbing systems were the main environmental sources of the most frequent Fusarium species and sequence types associated with eye infections," Short said.

He explained that biofilms on plumbing surfaces are known to comprise a diverse spectrum of fungi and other microbes. "Based on its very high frequency, it is clear that Fusarium is a ubiquitous component of biofilm microbial communities in plumbing systems," he said. "The adaptations that make Fusarium biofilm growth possible also may facilitate infection of humans.

"For example, in the 2005-06 mycotic keratitis outbreak, it was hypothesized that improper use of a contact lens solution led to reduced efficacy of its antimicrobial properties, which allowed fusaria to establish biofilms on contact lens surfaces and in lens cases," he said.

"The biofilm also may play an important role in established infections in humans by protecting the fungus from drug treatments, since biofilm-phase fusaria tend to be more resistant to antifungal drugs than those growing in a fluid medium."

Of the 59 sequence types identified from sinks in this study, 32 had not been found in previous multilocus sequence typing studies of Fusarium. These novel types included members of four apparently new Fusarium species.

David Geiser, professor of plant pathology and a member of the research team, pointed out that the serious infections caused by fusaria are relatively uncommon and that these fungi may even play positive roles in plumbing systems. But he said the study provides the strongest evidence to date supporting an epidemiological link between human fusarioses and plumbing systems.

"Our apparently constant physical proximity to these fungi belies their relative obscurity in terms of public awareness and understanding by the scientific community," said Geiser, who also is director of Penn State's Fusarium Research Center, which houses the world's largest collection of Fusarium.

"The species involved offer significant potential for studying host-microbe interactions, novel metabolic activities -- including the production of mycotoxins and antibiotics -- and the roles of microbes in indoor environments," he said.
'/>"/>

Contact: A'ndrea Elyse Messer
aem1@psu.edu
814-865-9481
Penn State
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. NJIT professor finds engineering technique to identify disease-causing genes
2. Scientists gain new understanding of disease-causing bacteria
3. New plastic-like materials may say shhhh to hush disease-causing microbes
4. Research targets basic metabolism of disease-causing fungi, bacteria
5. New research shows how disease-causing parasite gets around human innate immunity
6. UC Davis researchers find disease-causing fat cells in those with metabolic syndrome
7. Researchers recreate SARS virus, open door for potential defenses against future strains
8. Novel bacterial strains clear algal toxins from drinking water
9. Genomes of 2 popular research strains of E. coli sequenced
10. Unexpectedly high rate of multiple strains in fungal infection
11. Scripps research scientists determine structure of immune molecule that counteracts HIV strains
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Disease-causing strains of Fusarium prevalent in plumbing drains
(Date:4/14/2016)... 2016 BioCatch ™, the ... announced the appointment of Eyal Goldwerger as ... Goldwerger,s leadership appointment comes at a time of ... deployment of its platform at several of the world,s ... discerns unique cognitive and physiological factors, is a winner ...
(Date:3/31/2016)... PROVIDENCE, R.I. , March 31, 2016  Genomics ... leadership of founding CEO, Barrett Bready , M.D., ... addition, members of the original technical leadership team, including ... Vice President of Product Development, Steve Nurnberg and Vice ... have returned to the company. Dr. Bready ...
(Date:3/22/2016)... March 22, 2016 ... Sensors Market for Consumer Industry by Type (Image, ... Application (Communication & IT, Entertainment, Home Appliances, ... Forecast to 2022", published by MarketsandMarkets, the ... to reach USD 26.76 Billion by 2022, ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... ... medical technologies, services and solutions to the healthcare market. The company's primary focus ... distribution, manufacturing, sales and marketing strategies that are necessary to help companies efficiently ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... Ginkgo Bioworks , a leading organism design company ... as one of the World Economic Forum,s Technology ... companies. Ginkgo Bioworks is engineering biology to manufacture ... the nutrition, health and consumer goods sectors. The ... Fortune 500 companies to design microbes for their ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... While the majority of commercial spectrophotometers and fluorometers ... the 6000i models are higher end machines that use the more unconventional z-dimension of ... beam from the bottom of the cuvette holder. , FireflySci has developed several ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... UAS ... the launch of their brand, UP4™ Probiotics, into Target stores nationwide. The company, ... proud to add Target to its list of well-respected retailers. This list includes ...
Breaking Biology Technology: