Quantification of Saccharopolyspora rectivirgula in Composting Plants: Assessment of the Relevance of S. rectivirgula

Schäfer, Jenny; Klug, Kerstin; van Kampen, Vera; Jäckel, Udo
August 2013
Annals of Occupational Hygiene;Aug2013, Vol. 57 Issue 7, p875
Academic Journal
Exposure to bioaerosols in composting plants can lead to negative health effects on compost workers. Health complaints vary between cough, irritation of the eyes and the skin, sinusitis, or dyspnea among others. It is fact that compost materials harbor high concentrations of microorganisms, which were aerosolized during handling compost. Within the present study, total cell numbers between 3.4 × 104 and 1.6 × 108 cell counts per m3 air were determined after 4',6-Diamidin-2-phenylindol DAPI staining in 124 samples from German composting plants. Special attention should be paid to some specific microorganisms, which are able to cause health complaints. Saccharopolyspora rectivirgula, known to be one of the major causes of extrinsic allergic alveolitis (EAA, also called hypersensitivity pneumonitis, HP), was often found in environments of agricultural production, where the classical form of EAA (‘farmer’s lung disease’) is common, but also in composting plants. In Germany, cases are known where workers had to terminate their work due to this disease. However, up to now, the relevance of S. rectivirgula at composting plants is unexplained. This study showed that high concentrations of airborne S. rectivirgula were found in composting plants similar to that found in agricultural production. Altogether, in 86.7% of the 124 analyzed samples, S. rectivirgula was detected using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Estimated concentrations ranged between 1.24 × 102 cell counts of S. rectivirgula per cubic meter air next to the rotted residues and 1.5 × 107 cell counts next to a converter. Furthermore, our methodical proceedings were verified. To analyze DNA extraction limits through the amount of cells within one sample, the DNA concentration was compared with total cell counts (TCCs). Altogether, when TCC was <1.4 × 105 cells per DNA extraction assay, no DNA was measurable; when TCC reached 3.5 × 106 cells, DNA was always detectable by fluorometric method. To overcome limitation of DNA measurement using fluorometric method, samples without measurable DNA were inserted in a PCR assay with universal primers. Results showed that a gain of 37% was possible, when samples were additionally analyzed by universal PCR. Hence, cell counts >2.0 × 106 cells were necessary to measure DNA concentrations in 90% of the analyzed samples, whereas cell counts <3.0 × 105 are sufficient to detect PCR products. Therefore, sampling of bioaerosols should be done in consideration of the expected cell count per cubic meter air. Note, to get measurable DNA using a fluorometer, >3.5 × 106 cells must be sampled for one DNA extraction assay. With this study, the real-time PCR approach for the detection of S. rectivirgula at workplaces in compost plants was revised, and the results revealed that this method is suitable for occupational exposure measurements.



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