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

Chan Lan Chun, Chase I. Kahn, Andrew J. Borchert, Muruleedhara N. Byappanahalli, Richard L. Whitman, Julie Peller, Christina Pier, Guangyun Lin, Eric A. Johnson, Michael J. Sadowsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

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, Cladophora spp., 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 in Cladophora 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 100-104MPN/g dried algae, which was much greater (up to 103 fold) than that found in sand or the water column, indicating that Cladophora mats are sources of this pathogen. Mouse toxinantitoxin bioassays confirmed that the putative C. 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)523-529
Number of pages7
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume511
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported, in part, by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ( EPAR5-GL2010-1 ). We thank Steve Yancho, Chris Otto, and Emily Kobernik (SLBE); Stephan Kurdas and Julie Kinzelman (City of Racine, WI); Karen Terbush, Jay G. Bailey, and Patricia Wakefield (Hamline Beach State Park, NY); Dawn Shively (USGS, Great Lakes Science Center); Jill Lis (Cuyahoga County, OH) and Greg Kleinheinz, Kimberly Busse, and Brooke Jansen (U. of Wisconsin-Oshkosh) for providing field samples and beach conditions. Any use of trade, product or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. This article is Contribution 1911 of the USGS Great Lakes Science Center.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier B.V.

Keywords

  • Avian botulism
  • Cladophora
  • Clostridium botulinum
  • Great Lakes
  • Management practices
  • Neurotoxin genes

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