Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Microbes Travel Through the Air; It Would be Good to Know How and Where

13.09.2011
Preliminary research on Fusarium, a group of fungi that includes devastating pathogens of plants and animals, shows how these microbes travel through the air. Researchers now believe that with improvements on this preliminary research, there will be a better understanding about crop security, disease spread, and climate change.

Engineers and biologists are steering their efforts towards a new aerobiological modeling technique, one they think may assist farmers in the future by providing an early warning system for high-risk plant pathogens. It will also provide the basis for more effective management strategies to address the spread of infectious diseases affecting plants, domestic animals, and humans.

Using initial studies on the efficient movement and subsequent atmospheric dispersal of these microbes, Shane Ross, an assistant professor of engineering science and mechanics, and David Schmale III, associate professor of plant pathology, physiology and weed science, both at Virginia Tech, have received close to half a million dollars from the National Science Foundation to use autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to collect new samples of Fusarium in the lower atmosphere. They believe their work, combining the study of biology with engineering dynamics, will allow the prediction of atmospheric transport barriers that might govern the motion of Fusariumbetween habitats.

In preliminary work leading to their new study, also funded by the National Science Foundation, but through a different project led by Schmale and Ross, more than 100 airborne samples of Fusarium were obtained using UAVs. “The resulting information has led to strong evidence that specific atmospheric structures play a role in determining atmospheric concentrations of Fusarium,” Ross said. This work was published on line Sept. 9, 2011 in the American Institute of Physics’ journal Chaos.

In engineering terms, the atmospheric structures are called Lagrangian coherent structures, named after the 18th Century Italian-French mathematician Joseph Lagrange. He introduced a point of view into the study of fluids, like the atmosphere, which the research will employ.

Ross and Schmale will be able to compute, track, and predict atmospheric transport barriers governing the motion of microorganisms such as Fusarium between habitats, using engineering methods including the Lagrangian methods.

“By comparison with results of microbiological analysis, we expect to reveal how dynamical structures partition and mix airborne populations of microorganisms, and relatedly, how mixtures of microorganisms might encode their recent history of large-scale atmospheric mixing,” they said.

For microbes to move through the atmosphere to a new habitat, they must pass through a series of ‘layers’- the laminar boundary layer, the surface boundary layer, and the planetary boundary layer. The surface boundary layer often contains strong vertical gradients in wind speed, temperature, and humidity, accounting for the turbulence. “The small-scale motion can be characterized as random,” Ross added.

If the microbes make it above this surface boundary layer, and enter the second layer of the atmosphere, defined as being at a height of about 50 meters to about three kilometers above the ground, they can be transported over long distances. In this second layer, known as planetary boundary layer, “there are a lot of uncertainties in the trajectory computations,” Ross explained.

With Ross and Schmale’s research they hope to reduce some of these uncertainties. Schmale has already published his findings about reliable methods for collecting and studying populations of Fusarium in the lower atmosphere. (see: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/rob.20232/abstract and http://www.springerlink.com/content/d203130563348570/

Using UAVs, Schmale has collected data that shows the lower atmosphere is “teeming with Fusarium.” Schmale has DNA sequence data for hundreds of strains of Fusarium collected from the atmosphere, and they have preliminary data validating the important role that atmospheric transport barriers play in the transport of the microorganisms.

Ross said their work should allow them to make more predictable assessments of the transport of the microbes.

“In the future our work may be able to assist farmers by providing an early warning systems for high risk plant pathogens,” Ross said. “It might also pave the way for more effective management strategies for the spread of infectious diseases affecting plants, domestic animals, and humans.”

Lynn Nystrom | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.vt.edu

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht New 3-D model predicts best planting practices for farmers
26.06.2017 | Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

nachricht Fighting a destructive crop disease with mathematics
21.06.2017 | University of Cambridge

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Abrupt motion sharpens x-ray pulses

Spectrally narrow x-ray pulses may be “sharpened” by purely mechanical means. This sounds surprisingly, but a team of theoretical and experimental physicists developed and realized such a method. It is based on fast motions, precisely synchronized with the pulses, of a target interacting with the x-ray light. Thereby, photons are redistributed within the x-ray pulse to the desired spectral region.

A team of theoretical physicists from the MPI for Nuclear Physics (MPIK) in Heidelberg has developed a novel method to intensify the spectrally broad x-ray...

Im Focus: Physicists Design Ultrafocused Pulses

Physicists working with researcher Oriol Romero-Isart devised a new simple scheme to theoretically generate arbitrarily short and focused electromagnetic fields. This new tool could be used for precise sensing and in microscopy.

Microwaves, heat radiation, light and X-radiation are examples for electromagnetic waves. Many applications require to focus the electromagnetic fields to...

Im Focus: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Oestrogen regulates pathological changes of bones via bone lining cells

28.07.2017 | Life Sciences

Satellite data for agriculture

28.07.2017 | Information Technology

Abrupt motion sharpens x-ray pulses

28.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>