Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bacteria Stop Sheep Dip From Poisoning Fish And Bees

Date:
September 11, 2008
Source:
Society for General Microbiology
Summary:
Bacteria can be used to break down used sheep dip, preventing bees and fish from dying because of soil and river contamination, scientists report.

Bacteria can be used to break down used sheep dip, preventing bees and fish from dying because of soil and river contamination, scientists heard at the Society for General Microbiology's Autumn meeting being held this week at Trinity College, Dublin.

Most modern sheep dips are based on natural insecticides found in chrysanthemum flowers that have been manufactured synthetically since the 1970s called pyrethroids. These pyrethroids are commonly used in household products like head lice shampoo, ant powders and fly sprays as well as agricultural products designed to control insects.

"Synthetic pyrethroid compounds are far less toxic to humans than other insecticides, such as the organophosphates formerly used for removing disease-causing insects from sheep but they are actually a thousand times more toxic to fish," said Dr Mairin Cannon from University College Dublin, Ireland. "They may also cause cancer in people, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency."

"Just one cupful of used sheep dip could wipe out all the fish in an entire river," said Dr Cannon. "The current advice is to dilute sheep dip with two parts of water to one part dip, then spread it on a designated area of land well away from water courses. This allows specialised bacteria in the soil to degrade the sheep dip over the next couple of months, hopefully before it can get into rivers or streams."

However in rural economies in Ireland, where agriculture provides over 10% of employment and economic turnover, and in upland Wales or Devon where sheep are a major farming activity and sheep dips are routinely used to control parasites, heavy rainfall can cause used sheep dip to leach out into waterways and sediments where it can kill huge quantities of fish.

Synthetic pyrethroids are also extremely toxic to aquatic invertebrates such as leeches, water snails and beetles and are particularly toxic to bees which can lead to problems with pollination. Once the poison is absorbed by these animals it can move up the food chain, accumulating as it goes. "In order to prevent pollution of this kind, we looked at bacteria taken from sheep dip contaminated soils in the hope that they could degrade the pyrethroids in the sheep dip before it is spread on land," said Dr Cannon.

Thirty different bacteria were isolated from sheep dip polluted soil and dipping tanks. Previously, similar bacteria had been found to degrade synthetic pyrethroids at low concentrations. Dr Cannon tested the bacteria to see if they could degrade the pyrethroids at higher concentrations before the sheep dip was diluted. They found 8 different bacteria that could break down the pyrethroid compounds in the sheep dip tank under laboratory conditions.

"One type of bacteria originally taken from a sheep dip tank degraded 75% of the compound, which is unprecedented" said Dr Cannon. "We think these bacteria could be added into sheep dip tanks to break down the insecticides prior to land disposal. We know they can survive because they originally came from inside a sheep dip tank."

"It is vital that we do our utmost to prevent fish kills in the future," said Dr Cannon. "Most recently there have been several reports of fish kills as a result of sheep dip pollution in the UK. The best way to degrade synthetic pyrethroids in an environmentally friendly manner is to use these naturally occurring bacteria before the dip gets out into the environment. This could prevent a cascade of detrimental effects to fish, bees, aquatic invertebrates and ultimately humans."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society for General Microbiology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Society for General Microbiology. "Bacteria Stop Sheep Dip From Poisoning Fish And Bees." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 September 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080908073742.htm>.
Society for General Microbiology. (2008, September 11). Bacteria Stop Sheep Dip From Poisoning Fish And Bees. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080908073742.htm
Society for General Microbiology. "Bacteria Stop Sheep Dip From Poisoning Fish And Bees." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080908073742.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Dairy farmers and ethnic groups in Vermont are both benefiting from a unique collaborative effort that's feeding a growing need for fresh and affordable goat meat. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Not only are these newly discovered bugs' sex organs reversed, but they also mate for up to 70 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Great British Farmland Boom

The Great British Farmland Boom

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 17, 2014) Britain's troubled Co-operative Group is preparing to cash in on nearly 18,000 acres of farmland in one of the biggest UK land sales in decades. As Ivor Bennett reports, the market timing couldn't be better, with farmland prices soaring over 270 percent in the last 10 years. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins