CHEEC Seed Grants: FY 2015

Metabolomics characterization of early biomarkers of microcystin exposure in blood
Investigators: W. Rumbeiha, P. Imerman, Department of Veternary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine, Iowa State University; A. Perera, WM Keck Metabolomics Research Laboratory, Iowa State University

A low-cost aerosol sensing estimator for assessing aerosol exposure
Investigators:  S. Sousan, T. Peters, Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, The University of Iowa; G. Thomas, Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, The University of Iowa

Metagenomic analysis and modeling of environmental resistance to agricultural antibiotics
Investigators: M. Soupir, A. Howe, Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, Iowa State University

 


Metabolomics characterization of early biomarkers of microcystin exposure in blood
Investigators: W. Rumbeiha, P. Imerman, Department of Veternary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine, Iowa State University; A. Perera, WM Keck Metabolomics Research Laboratory, Iowa State University 
Fresh water cyanobacteria harmful algal blooms (HABs) are increasing in frequency and severity in the U.S. and globally. Blooms produce potent and lethal cyanotoxins which poison people and animals. This is a serious emerging “One Health” problem. Among the many cyanotoxins produced by HABs are hepatotoxic and carcinogenic microcystins. Currently, the state-of-the-art diagnostic approach for microcystin intoxications in people is measuring elevated blood serum liver enzymes as biomarkers of effect. Unfortunately, elevated liver enzymes are late biomarkers of microcystin effects. The objective of this study is to identify and characterize early biomarkers of microcystin exposure and effects in humans using the mouse model. These early biomarkers will be used for diagnosis in populations exposed to contaminated water in order to mount early intervention procedures to protect individual and public health.

A low-cost aerosol sensing estimator for assessing aerosol exposure
Investigators: Sousan, T. Peters, Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, The University of Iowa; G. Thomas, Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, The University of Iowa 
The association of air pollution with adverse cardiopulmonary health outcomes may be underestimated because of misclassification errors introduced by uncertainty in the exposure assessment of aerosols. Until recently, the excessive cost of high-end aerosol measurement devices (>$10,000) has prevented the regular collection of aerosol data with high spatial and temporal resolution with exposure measurements often being limited to a single site to represent large populations. In some cases, new, low-cost (<$500) aerosol devices have been found to correlate favorably to high-cost devices. However, these low-cost devices suffer from some limitations, such as an inability to distinguish between fine and coarse particles. The proposed study aims to overcome these limitations by designing and evaluating a customized, aerosol sensor based on low-cost, high-resolution cameras. The low-cost sensor will enable routine aerosol assessment among the general population, providing estimates of aerosol concentrations resolved by size (fine and coarse aerosol) and time (<5 min logging).

Metagenomic analysis and modeling of environmental resistance to agricultural antibiotics
Investigators: M. Soupir, A. Howe, Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, Iowa State University 
Increasing levels of antibiotic resistance in clinical settings has led many to believe that animal agriculture antibiotic use is contributing to the global resistance problem; however, that connection is unclear given the limited understanding of antibiotic resistant bacteria (ARB) and resistant genes (ARG) in the soil and water environment. Our previous work has documented differences in ARG concentrations in drainage when compared to measured concentrations of U.S. EPA recommended indicator bacteria. Here, we propose laboratory experiments in a controlled column environment, representative of an agroecosystem, to (1) identify the diversity and quantify the abundance of ARGs and their hosts in manure, soils with varying management histories, and simulated subsurface drainage; and (2) identify the diversity and quantify the abundance of mobile genetic elements and their linkages to ARGs. Results will provide valuable insight into i) the microbial community harboring ARGs and ii) horizontal gene transfer processes occurring in agricultural systems.