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Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2010 Mar;73(3):443-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2009.10.003. Epub 2009 Dec 16.

Molecular identification of airborne bacteria associated with aerial spraying of bovine slurry waste employing 16S rRNA gene PCR and gene sequencing techniques.

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Northern Ireland Public Health Laboratory, Department of Bacteriology, Belfast City Hospital, Lisburn Road, Belfast BT9 7AD, Northern Ireland, UK.


Polymerase chain reaction amplification of the universal 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene was performed on a collection of 38 bacterial isolates, originating from air sampled immediately adjacent to the agricultural spreading of bovine slurry. A total of 16 bacterial genera were identified including both Gram-positive and Gram-negative genera. Gram-positive organisms accounted for 34/38 (89.5%) of total bacterial numbers consisting of 12 genera and included Staphylococcus (most common genus isolated), Arthrobacter (2nd most common genus isolated), Brachybacterium, Exiguobacterium, Lactococcus, Microbacterium and Sporosarcina (next most common genera isolated) and finally, Bacillus, Brevibacterium, Frigoribacterium, Mycoplana and Pseudoclavibacter. Gram-negative organisms accounted for only 4/38 (10.5%) bacterial isolates and included the following genera, Brevundimonas, Lysobacter, Psychrobacter and Rhizobium. No gastrointestinal pathogens were detected. Although this study demonstrated a high diversity of the microorganisms present, only a few have been shown to be opportunistically pathogenic to humans and none of these organisms described have been described previously as having an inhalational route of infection and therefore we do not believe that the species of organisms identified pose a significant health and safety threat for immunocompetant individuals.

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