Chapter 35 : The Siren Call of the Sea

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The author's work focused on bacteria associated with marine animals-specifically invertebrates, including shellfish, both mollusks and crustaceans. One of the studies compared microorganisms associated with marine animals from the Rongelap and Eniwetok atolls after the atomic bomb tests. It was a fascinating study because it demonstrated concentration of radioactive elements by microorganisms, work that was confirmed by other investigators in later years and that has relevance for bioremediation in today's society—that is, microorganisms can be used to concentrate and remove radioactive elements from radioactive wastes. The author's interest in marine microbiology expanded to a curiosity about the genetics of marine microorganisms. The initial work demonstrated the presence of plasmids in marine bacteria, especially those bacteria found in harbors and coastal areas into which effluent from sewage treatment plants and industry was discharged. A major limitation to research in microbial ecology has been the inability to isolate, grow, and culture the vast majority of bacteria that are present in the environment. Researchers reported that selected human pathogens, such as , lost the ability to grow on laboratory media after incubation in oligotrophic ocean water or in seawater microcosms in the laboratory for short periods of time (less than one day to three weeks), although cell numbers, by direct microscopic counts, changed little.

Citation: Colwell R. 2000. The Siren Call of the Sea, p 269-274. In Atlas R (ed), Many Faces, Many Microbes. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818128.ch35
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Citation: Colwell R. 2000. The Siren Call of the Sea, p 269-274. In Atlas R (ed), Many Faces, Many Microbes. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818128.ch35
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1. Chun, J.,, A. Huq,, and R. R. Colwell. 1999. Analysis of 16S-23S rRNA intergenic spacer regions of Vibrio cholerae and Vibrio mimicus. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 65: 2202 2208.
2. Colwell, R. R. 1996. Global climate and infectious disease: The cholera paradigm. Science 274: 2025 2031.
3. Pommepuy, M.,, M. Butin,, A. Derrien,, M. Gourmelon,, R. R. Colwell,, and M. Cormier. 1996. Retention of enteropathogenicity by viable but nonculturable Escherichia coli exposed to seawater and sunlight. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 62: 4621 4626.
4. Rahman, I.,, M. Shahamat,, M. A. Chowdhury,, and R. R. Coiwell. 1996. Potential virulence of viable but nonculturable Shigella dysenteriae type 1. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 62: 115 120.
5. Shiba, T.,, R. T. Hill,, W. L. Straube,, and R. R. Colwell. 1995. Decrease in culturability of Vibrio cholerae caused by glucose. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 61: 2583 2588.
6. Colwell, R. R. 1994. Biodiversity and release of genetically engineered organisms: A partnership of value. Curr. Opin. Biotechnol. 5: 244 246.
7. Somerville, C. C.,, and R. R. Colwell. 1993. Sequence analysis of the beta- N-acetylhexosaminidase gene of Vibrio vulnificus: evidence for a common evolutionary origin of hexosaminidases. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 90: 6751 6755.
8. Byrd, J. J.,, H. S. Xu,, and R. R. Colwell. 1991. Viable but nonculturable bacteria in drinking water. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 57: 875 978.
9. Leahy, J. G.,, and R. R. Colwell. 1990. Microbial degradation of hydrocarbons in the environment. Microbiol. Rev. 54: 305 315.
10. Roszak, D. B.,, and R. R. Colwell. 1987. Survival strategies of bacteria in the natural environment. Microbiol. Rev. 51: 365 379.
11. Grimes, D. J.,, R. W. Atwell,, P. R. Brayton,, L. M. Palmer,, D. M. Rollins,, D. B. Roszak,, F. L. Singleton,, M. L. Tamplin,, and R. R. Colwell. 1986. The fate of enteric pathogenic bacteria in estuarine and marine environments. Microbiol. Sci. 3: 324 329.
12. Colwell, R. R. 1977. Ecological aspects of microbial degradation of petroleum in the marine environment. CRC Crit. Rev. Microbiol. 5: 423 445.
13. Mallory, L. M.,, B. Austin,, and R. R. Colwell. 1977. Numerical taxonomy and ecology of oligotrophic bacteria isolated from the estuarine environment. Can. J. Microbiol. 23: 733 750.
14. Colwell, R. R. 1973. Genetic and phenetic classification of bacteria. Adv. Appl. Microbiol. 16: 137 175.

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