Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Slime-producing molecules help spread disease from cats to sea otters

8th October 2014 
41 minutes ago by Pat Bailey

(Phys.org) —The spread of diseases from land animals to sea otters and other marine mammals is aided and abetted by gelatinous, sticky polymers produced by seaweed, reports a research team headed by a UC Davis veterinary infectious-disease expert.

These large, complex molecules form slimy biofilms and bind water-borne organic matter into larger particles, in which disease-causing microorganisms can become embedded and introduced to the marine food chain, the researchers discovered.

Using the parasite Toxoplasma gondii as a model, they showed how these sticky polymers increase the chance that disease-causing organisms would be picked up by marine snails, which graze on kelp and are among the common foods of some endangered sea otters.

Findings from the new study will be published Oct. 8 in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

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