Soil clay content underlies prion infection odds

Nature Communications
By: , and 



Environmental factors—especially soil properties—have been suggested as potentially important in the transmission of infectious prion diseases. Because binding to montmorillonite (an aluminosilicate clay mineral) or clay-enriched soils had been shown to enhance experimental prion transmissibility, we hypothesized that prion transmission among mule deer might also be enhanced in ranges with relatively high soil clay content. In this study, we report apparent influences of soil clay content on the odds of prion infection in free-ranging deer. Analysis of data from prion-infected deer herds in northern Colorado, USA, revealed that a 1% increase in the clay-sized particle content in soils within the approximate home range of an individual deer increased its odds of infection by up to 8.9%. Our findings suggest that soil clay content and related environmental properties deserve greater attention in assessing risks of prion disease outbreaks and prospects for their control in both natural and production settings.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Soil clay content underlies prion infection odds
Series title Nature Communications
DOI 10.1038/ncomms1203
Volume 2
Issue 1
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher Nature Research
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Seattle, National Wildlife Health Center
Description 200, 6 p.
Country United States
State Colorado
Other Geospatial Northern Colorado
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details