Expert Opinion on Environmental BiologyISSN: 2325-9655

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Editorial, Expert Opin Environ Biol Vol: 1 Issue: 1

Aquatic Microbiology in a Rapidly Changing World

Asli Aslan*
Department of Fisheries and Wildlife & International Studies and Programs,Michigan State University, USA
Corresponding author : Asli Aslan
Assistant Professor, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife & International Studies and Programs, Michigan State University, USA
E-mail: [email protected]
Received: June 20, 2012 Accepted: June 22, 2012 Published: June 25, 2012
Citation: Aslan A (2012) Aquatic Microbiology in a Rapidly Changing World. Expert Opin Environ Biol 1:1. doi:10.4172/2325-9655.1000e102

Abstract

Aquatic Microbiology in a Rapidly Changing World

We are in the era of speed and precision. Like many other disciplines in environmental biology, applied aquatic microbiology tends to move forward with new rapid and cutting edge tools to study water-related microorganisms from river banks to the abyss of the oceans. These innovations help to resolve the issues with determining the risks associated with climate change, human activities as well as the interactions between species to redefine what a healthy water environment is for all living organisms sharing these environments.

Keywords:

We are in the era of speed and precision. Like many other disciplines in environmental biology, applied aquatic microbiology tends to move forward with new rapid and cutting edge tools to study water-related microorganisms from river banks to the abyss of the oceans. These innovations help to resolve the issues with determining the risks associated with climate change, human activities as well as the interactions between species to redefine what a healthy water environment is for all living organisms sharing these environments.
Characterization of the water environment can now be undertaken associated with any new or emerging microorganism of concern or interest. Molecular tools have revolutionized the study of environmental microbiology which has become imperative in particular for applications towards: discovering the aquatic microbial world, understanding diverse ecosystems and improving environmental health. Focusing on the human dimensions aspect is also a part of these efforts. The water and water intensive industries (food, electronics etc), government and private agencies (e.g. public health and resorts) need new and rapid methods for many applications including recreational and drinking water safety, wastewater/ residuals treatment and safe disposal or reuse, reclamation and recycling, aquatic environment protection, transboundary pollution control.
On the human dimensions aspect, the access to a safe freshwater resource is a basic human right and yet we know that today, 840 million people still suffer from undernourishment. It has been estimated that 88% of diarrheal deaths worldwide are linked to unsafe water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene. Marine waters on the other hand, are also threatened by heavy pollution. Sewage is a significant source of contaminants in water, adding excessive amounts of nutrients, pharmaceuticals and important waterborne diseasecausing bacteria, viruses and parasites. Today, diarrheal diseases kill more children than AIDS, malaria, and measles combined, making it the second leading cause of death among children under five globally. The forgotten diseases in the developed world such as cholera are still a major problem in underdeveloped countries. In addition to these, emerging pathogens are also threatening our waters. In the United States, most waterborne disease outbreaks have been listed as acute gastrointestinal diseases (AGI) with unknown etiology. Least studied agents such as viruses are assumed to cause most of these outbreaks and because of this, a significant portion of outbreaks due to viral agents are neglected.
On top of these problems, there is climate change factor that affects the aquatic ecosystems and human health. Ninety percent of all disaster-related deaths are water-related. These deaths occurs via, destruction of infrastructure, impact on distribution of untreated sewage and contamination of water supplies, re-suspension of contaminated sediments and soils, displacement of people to shelters (lack of sanitation-outbreak risk). Temperature increases, rainfall fluctuations, droughts, heat-waves and cold spells expose or stress freshwater resources and sanitation services, limiting or polluting water. Aging infrastructure and combined sewer overflow (CSO) systems will face increased pressure and leading to greater stress both to the aquatic ecosystems and drinking water reservoirs. One of the critical first steps in breaking the disease cycle and environmental deterioration is identifying the extent and source of the fecal pollution rapidly so that appropriate intervention and control strategies can be used.
Powerful new genomics tools are available which are able to enhance our understanding of the world around us. The microscopic world of archea, bacteria, fungi, algae, protozoa is important to healthy ecosystems. These organisms are found in every environment including in soil, water and air as well as on/in plants, humans and animals including on human-made surfaces such as pipes and plastics. It had been estimated that there may be 3,00,000 to 1 million species of bacteria on earth yet only 3,100 bacteria are described in Bergey’s Manual and only about 1% of them could have been cultured from freshwater and ocean environments thus far. Our knowledge of the natural and pollution-based microbial communities and the microbial ecology of water and pollution are limited and more studies are needed to understand and protect our blue planet.
Many rapid applications depend on techniques that are able to quantify the target within a few hours after collection, detect the infectivity of the pathogens and analyze the pharmaceutical use of the products from novel aquatic microorganisms. It is clear that further consideration must be given to the complete process for microbial identification of waters including site selection, the necessary targets, and automation in collection, extraction, concentration/amplification identification and quantification. Value added information in a timely manner is a key issue. Precise and rapid microbial detection is a must in the search for the unknown organisms from viruses to protozoa. This means that larger volumes of water must be collected and generally filtration has been used and remains the primary method for collection. Extraction, purification and in many cases further concentration are needed, inhibition may then become a problem. A set of novel methods can be applied to microbial studies worldwide to improve knowledge on water related microorganisms’ ecology including the fate and transport, concentrations and accumulation, and finally spatial and temporal occurrences.
New instruments have now made it possible to study the metagenomics of water which helps to identify even the rare communities. Recent advances are new concentration techniques including ultrafiltration, continuous filtration and new types of filters for improved recovery; automated extraction of nucleic acids with less contamination and more rapid throughput; new qPCR approaches for monitoring microbes of concern with molecular viability for disinfection processes. Metagenomics of the aquatic environments provides insights into the world of water expedition. Current efforts are being spent on methods and large amounts of data generation which will finally create the need for better data interpretation.
We are happy to publish this first issue in Experts Opinion in Environmental Biology. We hope that this new journal will help sharing the current knowledge in every aspect of environmental biology including applied aquatic microbiology. In the world of speed and precision, we need to share and discuss our findings using powerful media sources that can reach to wider audience. We believe that this journal will help to achieve these goals and more.

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