Prevalence of toxin-producing Clostridium botulinum associated with the macroalga Cladophora in three Great Lakes: growth and management

Science of the Total Environment
By: , and 

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Abstract

The reemergence of avian botulism caused by Clostridium botulinum type E has been observed across the Great Lakes in recent years. Evidence suggests an association between the nuisance algae, Cladophoraspp., and C. botulinum in nearshore areas of the Great Lakes. However, the nature of the association between Cladophora and C. botulinum is not fully understood due, in part, to the complex food web interactions in this disease etiology. In this study, we extensively evaluated their association by quantitatively examining population size and serotypes of C. botulinum in algal mats collected from wide geographic areas in lakes Michigan, Ontario, and Erie in 2011–2012 and comparing them with frequencies in other matrices such as sand and water. A high prevalence (96%) of C. botulinum type E was observed inCladophora mats collected from shorelines of the Great Lakes in 2012. Among the algae samples containing detectable C. botulinum, the population size of C. Botulinum type E was 100–104 MPN/g dried algae, which was much greater (up to 103 fold) than that found in sand or the water column, indicating thatCladophora mats are sources of this pathogen. Mouse toxinantitoxin bioassays confirmed that the putativeC. botulinum belonged to the type E serotype. Steam treatment was effective in reducing or eliminating C. botulinum type E viable cells in Cladophora mats, thereby breaking the potential transmission route of toxin up to the food chain. Consequently, our data suggest that steam treatment incorporated with a beach cleaning machine may be an effective treatment of Cladophora-borne C. botulinum and may reduce bird mortality and human health risks.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Prevalence of toxin-producing Clostridium botulinum associated with the macroalga Cladophora in three Great Lakes: growth and management
Series title Science of the Total Environment
DOI 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.12.080
Volume 511
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Great Lakes Science Center
Description 7 p.
First page 523
Last page 529
Country United States
Other Geospatial Lake Erie, Lake Michigan, Lake Ontario
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N