Tuesday, August 10, 2010

NOW THATS WHAT I CALL A RAT!

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Archaeological research in East Timor has unearthed the bones of the biggest rat that ever lived, with a body weight around 6 kg.

The cave excavations also yielded a total of 13 species of rodents, 11 of which are new to science. Eight of the rats weighed a kilogram or more.

“East Indonesia is a hot spot for rodent evolution. We want international attention on conservation in the area,” CSIRO’s Dr Ken Aplin says.

“Rodents make up 40 per cent of mammalian diversity worldwide and are a key element of ecosystems, important for processes like soil maintenance and seed dispersal. Maintaining biodiversity among rats is just as important as protecting whales or birds.”

Carbon dating shows that the biggest rat that ever lived survived until around 1000 to 2000 years ago, along with most of the other Timorese rodents found during the excavation. Only one of the smaller species found is known to survive on Timor today.

“People have lived on the island of Timor for over 40,000 years and hunted and ate rats throughout this period, yet extinctions did not occur until quite recently,” Dr Aplin says.

“We think this shows people used to live sustainably on Timor until around 1000 to 2000 years ago. This means extinctions aren’t inevitable when people arrive on an island. Large scale clearing of forest for agriculture probably caused the extinctions, and this may have only been possible following the introduction of metal tools.”

Each of the islands of eastern Indonesia evolved it own unique collection of rats. Dr Aplin has also found six new rat species in a cave on the island of Flores. Some of these might still be living on Flores but they have evaded detection by modern collectors and further surveys are urgently needed.

Timor has few native mammals, with bats and rodents making up the majority of species. Most of Timor today is arid, transformed from the lush rainforests of the past. But there is still room for imagination.

“Although less than 15 per cent of Timor’s original forest cover remains, parts of the island are still heavily forested, so who knows what might be out there?” Dr Aplin says.

“During a recent field trip in East Timor, I found the remains of a freshly dead rat which we knew about only from cave deposits.”

Until Dr Aplin finds a larger one, today’s biggest rats weigh around 2kg and live in rainforest in the Philippines and New Guinea.

(Photo: CSIRO)

CSIRO

NANOBLASTS MOVE MOLECULES, PROTEINS AND DNA INTO LIVING CELLS

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Using chemical "nanoblasts" that punch tiny holes in the protective membranes of cells, researchers have demonstrated a new technique for getting therapeutic small molecules, proteins and DNA directly into living cells.

Carbon nanoparticles activated by bursts of laser light trigger the tiny blasts, which open holes in cell membranes just long enough to admit therapeutic agents contained in the surrounding fluid. By adjusting laser exposure, the researchers administered a small-molecule marker compound to 90 percent of targeted cells -- while keeping more than 90 percent of the cells alive.

The research was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and the Institute of Paper Science and Technology at Georgia Tech. It will be reported in the August issue of the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

"This technique could allow us to deliver a wide variety of therapeutics that now cannot easily get into cells," said Mark Prausnitz, a professor in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. "One of the most significant uses for this technology could be for gene-based therapies, which offer great promise in medicine, but whose progress has been limited by the difficulty of getting DNA and RNA into cells."

The work is believed to be the first to use activation of reactive carbon nanoparticles by lasers for medical applications. Additional research and clinical trials will be needed before the technique could be used in humans.

Researchers have been trying for decades to drive DNA and RNA more efficiently into cells with a variety of methods, including using viruses to ferry genetic materials into cells, coating DNA and RNA with chemical agents or employing electric fields and ultrasound to open cell membranes. However, these previous methods have generally suffered from low efficiency or safety concerns.

With their new technique, which was inspired by earlier work on the so-called "photoacoustic effect," Prausnitz and collaborators Prerona Chakravarty, Wei Qian and Mostafa El-Sayed hope to better localize the application of energy to cell membranes, creating a safer and more efficient approach for intracellular drug delivery.

Their technique begins with introducing particles of carbon black measuring 25 nanometers -- one millionth of an inch -- in diameter into the fluid surrounding the cells into which the therapeutic agents are to be introduced. Bursts of near-infrared light from a femotosecond laser are then applied to the fluid at a rate of 90 million pulses per second. The carbon nanoparticles absorb the light, which makes them hot. The hot particles then heat the surrounding fluid to make steam. The steam reacts with the carbon nanoparticles to form hydrogen and carbon monoxide.

The two gases form a bubble which grows as the laser provides energy. The bubble collapses suddenly when the laser is turned off, creating a shock wave that punches holes in the membranes of nearby cells. The openings allow therapeutic agents from the surrounding fluid to enter the cells. The holes quickly close so the cell can survive.

The researchers have demonstrated that they could get the small molecule calcein, the bovine serum albumin protein and plasmid DNA through the cell membranes of human prostate cancer cells and rat gliosarcoma cells using this technique. Calcein uptake was seen in 90 percent of the cells at laser levels that left more than 90 percent of the cells alive.

"We could get almost all of the cells to take up these molecules that normally wouldn’t enter the cells, and almost all of the cells remained alive," said Prerona Chakravarty, the study's lead author. "Our laser-activated carbon nanoparticle system enables controlled bubble implosions that can disrupt the cell membranes just enough to get the molecules in without causing lasting damage."

To assess how long the holes in the cell membrane remained open, the researchers left the simulated therapeutics out of the fluid when the cells were exposed to the laser light, then added the agents one second after turning off the laser. They saw almost no uptake of the molecules, suggesting that the cell membranes resealed themselves quickly.

To confirm that the carbon-steam reaction was a critical factor driving the nanoblasts, the researchers substituted gold nanoparticles for the carbon nanoparticles before exposure to laser light. Because they lacked the carbon needed for reaction, the gold nanoparticles produced little uptake of the molecules, Prausnitz noted.

Similarly, the researchers substituted carbon nanotubes for the carbon nanoparticles, and also measured little uptake, which they explained by noting that the nanotubes are less reactive than the carbon black particles.

Experimentation further showed that DNA introduced into cells through the laser-activated technique remained functional and capable of driving protein expression. When plasmid DNA that encoded for luciferase expression was introduced into the cancer cells, production of luciferase increased 17-fold.

For the future, the researchers plan to study use of a less expensive nanosecond laser to replace the ultrafast femtosecond instrument used in the research. They also plan to optimize the carbon nanoparticles so that nearly all of them are consumed during the exposure to laser light. Leftover carbon nanoparticles in the body should produce no harmful effects, though the body may be unable to eliminate them, Prausnitz noted.

"This is the first study showing proof of principle for laser-activation of reactive carbon nanoparticles for drug and gene delivery," he said. "There is a considerable path ahead before this can be brought into medicine, but we are optimistic that this approach can ultimately provide a new alternative for delivering therapeutic agents into cells safely and efficiently."

(Photo: Georgia Tech)

Georgia Tech

MOUNTAIN MARMOTS MADE BIGGER BY CLIMATE CHANGE

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Longer summers are causing large mountain rodents called marmots to grow larger and get better at surviving, according to a 33-year study published today in Nature.

The research, carried out by scientists at Imperial College London and collaborators in the UK and USA, looked at a population of yellow-bellied marmots (Marmota flaviventris), which are large ground-dwelling 'squirrels' that live at around 3000 metres in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.

Regional changes in the climate have created longer summers and have led to marmots waking up earlier from hibernation, giving them more time to reproduce and gain weight before the next hibernation period. The study shows that the marmots are growing fatter and healthier as a result. Longer summers also mean that individual marmots are reproducing earlier and their offspring are more likely to survive the upcoming winter, so the marmot population is increasing in size.

Yellow-bellied marmots are adapted to living in environments with a short summer and a long winter by hibernating for seven to eight months of the year. Failure to gain enough weight before the colder months can be life-threatening, as a marmot loses around 40 percent of its body mass during hibernation.

Today's study, which began in 1962 and focuses on the most comprehensive data collected between 1976 and 2008, is the first study of any species to show that a shift in seasonal timing can cause changes in body mass and population size simultaneously.

Dr Arpat Ozgul, lead author of the study from the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial College London, said: "Marmots are awake for only four to five months of the year. These months are a busy time for them - they have to eat and gain weight, get pregnant, produce offspring and get ready to hibernate again. Since the summers have become longer, marmots have had more time to do all these things and grow before the upcoming winter, so they are more likely to succeed and survive.

"We have observed changes in the body mass of individual marmots over the past 33 years and changes in their population size over the last decade, but we do not know what might happen in the future. Will populations thrive in the changing climate? We suspect that this population increase is a short-term response to the lengthening summers. We hope that by continuing this long-term study we will shed important light on the marmots' future response to climate change," added Dr Ozgul.

To reach their conclusions, the researchers analysed data on body mass, survival and reproduction of female yellow-bellied marmots in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. Every year, the researchers live-trapped marmots at each colony multiple times during the summer and individually marked them using numbered ear tags. They recorded the sex, mass and reproductive condition of each captured animal.

The results show that the average mass of adult marmots increased from 3094 grams in the first half of the study to 3433 grams in the second half. The research also shows that population growth increased from 0.56 marmots per year between 1976 and 2001 to 14.2 marmots per year between 2001 and 2008.

Professor Tim Coulson, one of the authors of the study from the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial College London, said: "The marmots have provided yet another example of how climate change can impact the natural world. We have shown how we can model the consequences of environmental change on wild populations. If we can get better at predicting how climate change is likely to influence the natural world, perhaps we can devise ways to help species predicted to be adversely affected by our rapidly changing climate."

Professor Sir Brian Hoskins, Director of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London, said: "Scientists have carried out numerous studies on animals and plants that can tell us about the impacts of climate change. Today's study shows that marmots are also one of these species, acting as climate change 'canaries', giving us an early warning about the effects of climate change on our natural environment."

Imperial College London

DOG BRAINS IN A SPIN

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For the first time, scientists have shown that selective breeding of domestic dogs is not only dramatically changing the way animals look but is also driving major changes in the canine brain.

The brains of many short-snouted dog breeds have rotated forward as much as 15 degrees, while the brain region controlling smell has fundamentally relocated, researchers from the University of New South Wales and University of Sydney have found.

The large variations in dog skull size and shape follow more than 12,000 years of breeding for functional and aesthetic traits.

The discovery of such dramatic reorganisation of the canine brain raises important questions about impacts on dog behavior.

The research is published in the Public Library of Sciences journal PLoS One.

Researchers from UNSW’s Brain and Ageing Research Program and Sydney University’s Faculty of Veterinary Science used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to look at brains across a range of breeds.

“We found strong and independent correlations between the size and shape of a dog’s skull, and brain rotation and the positioning of the olfactory lobe,” said study co-author, Dr Michael Valenzuela, from UNSW’s School of Psychiatry

“As a dog’s head or skull shape becomes flatter – more pug-like – the brain rotates forward and the smell centre of the brain drifts further down to the lowest position in the skull,” Dr Valenzuela said.

No other animal has enjoyed the level of human affection and companionship like the dog, nor undergone such a systemic and deliberate intervention in its biology through breeding, the authors note. The diversity suggests a unique level of plasticity in the canine genome.

“Canines seem to be incredibly responsive to human intervention through breeding. It’s amazing that a dog’s brain can accommodate such large differences in skull shape through these kinds of changes – it’s something that hasn’t been documented in other species,” Dr Valenzuela said.

Health impacts from breed specific disorders – such as pug encephalitis and hip problems in German shepherds – are well documented; however, until now little had been known about the effects of human intervention on dogs’ brains.

Co-author Associate Professor Paul McGreevy from the University of Sydney noted: “We think of dogs living in a world of smell – but this finding strongly suggests that one dog's world of smell may be very different from another's.”

“The next obvious step is to try to find out if these changes in brain organisation are also linked to systematic differences in dogs’ brain function,” Dr Valenzuela said.

(Photo: UNSW)

University of New South Wales

BRAINSTEM, SPINAL CORD IMAGES HIDDEN IN MICHELANGELO'S SISTINE CHAPEL FRESCO

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Michelangelo, the 16th century master painter and accomplished anatomist, appears to have hidden an image of the brainstem and spinal cord in a depiction of God in the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling, a new study by Johns Hopkins researchers reports. These findings by a neurosurgeon and a medical illustrator, published in the May Neurosurgery, may explain long controversial and unusual features of one of the frescoes’ figures.

Michelangelo is known to have dissected numerous cadavers starting in his teenage years, these anatomic studies aiding him in creating extremely accurate depictions of the human figure in his sculptures and paintings, notably the statue of David in Florence and paintings of God and other figures from the Book of Genesis in the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel in Rome.

Although the vast majority of subjects in this painting are considered anatomically correct, art historians and scholars have long debated the meaning of some anatomical peculiarities seen on God’s neck in the part of the painting known as Separation of Light From Darkness. In this image, the neck appears lumpy, and God’s beard awkwardly curls upward around his jaw.

“Michelangelo definitely knew how to depict necks—he knew anatomy so well,” says Rafael Tamargo, M.D., a professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “That’s why it was such a mystery why this particular neck looked so odd.”

To investigate, Tamargo enlisted the help of his Hopkins colleague Ian Suk, B.Sc., B.M.C., a medical illustrator and associate professor in the Department of Neurosurgery. Together, the researchers realized that the unusual features in the neck strongly resemble a brainstem, the portion of tissue at the base of the brain that connects to the spinal cord.

“It’s an unusual view of the brainstem, from the bottom up. Most people wouldn’t recognize it unless they had extensively studied neuroanatomy,” says Suk.

Suk adds that the strategically placed brainstem might also explain another unusual feature of the painting. In this same image, God is depicted in a red robe with an odd tubular structure depicted in the chest. Although God wears the same red robe in other images in the fresco, this tubular structure is absent elsewhere. The structure has the right placement, shape, and size to be a spinal cord, say the researchers, suggesting another piece of hidden anatomy in the artwork.

Tamargo and Suk explain that, if their proposition is correct, it wouldn’t be the first time that such concealed anatomical depictions have been proposed to exist in the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling. In 1990, Frank Lynn Meshberger, an obstetrician based in Indiana, published a paper suggesting that the shroud surrounding the image known as the Creation of Adam strongly resembles an anatomically correct brain.

“It looks like the central nervous system may have been too good a motif to use only once,” Tamargo says.

The two researchers plan to continue searching for other hidden pieces of anatomy elsewhere in the Sistine Chapel painting.

(Photo: Neurosurgery)

Johns Hopkins University

ANCIENT DNA IDENTIFIES DONKEY ANCESTORS, PEOPLE WHO DOMESTICATED THEM

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Genetic investigators say the partnership between people and the ancestors of today's donkeys was sealed not by monarchs trying to establish kingdoms, but by mobile, pastoral people who had to recruit animals to help them survive the harsh Saharan landscape in northern Africa more than 5,000 years ago.

The findings, reported by an international research team in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, paint a surprising picture of what small, isolated groups of people were able to accomplish when confronted with unpredictable storms and expanding desert.

"It says those early people were quite innovative, more so than many people today give them credit for," said senior author Connie J. Mulligan, Ph.D., an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Florida and associate director of the UF Genetics Institute. "The domestication of a wild animal was quite an intellectual breakthrough, and we have provided solid evidence that donkey domestication happened first in northern Africa and happened there more than once."

Sorting through the most comprehensive sampling of mitochondrial DNA ever assembled from ancient, historic and living specimens, scientists determined that the critically endangered African wild ass -- which today exists only in small numbers in eastern Africa, zoos and wildlife preserves -- is the living ancestor of the modern donkey.

What's more, researchers found evidence to suggest that a subspecies called the Nubian wild ass, presumed vanished late in the 20th century, is not only a direct ancestor of the donkey -- it may still exist.

The ancestors of the domestic donkey were considered vital for collecting water, moving desert households and creating the first land-based trade routes between the ancient Egyptians and the Sumerians, according to study co-author Fiona B. Marshall, Ph.D., a professor of anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis.

An Old World prehistorian, Marshall has documented evidence of the donkey's domestic service by looking at skeletal wear and tear of animal remains found entombed near Egyptian pharaohs.

In the new study, scientists traced the family trees of the domestic donkey using samples from living animals, skeletons of African wild ass held in museums worldwide and isolated donkey bones from African archaeological sites.

"These were the first transport animals, the steam engines of their day," Marshall said. "Today domestic donkeys are often conceived of as animals of poor people, and little is known about their breeding. This is the first study to determine the African wild ass, which includes the Nubian strain, is the ancestor of the domestic donkey. That's important to know for efforts to preserve the species."

There are small numbers of the Somali subspecies of the African wild ass in zoos and wildlife preserves, and about 600 still exist in the wild in Eritrea and Ethiopia, but the Nubian subspecies was last seen in the Red Sea Hills of Sudan late in the 20th century.

Hope for its continued existence springs from a sample collected in northern Africa in the mid-1990s by co-author and biologist Albano Beja-Pereira of the University of Porto, Portugal. If any Nubian survivors are found, the possibility remains that the animals could be bred and reintroduced into the wild. The evidence reinforces the need for surveys and wildlife management plans in eastern Sudan and northern Eritrea, researchers say.

"The whole idea behind conservation is the need to maintain genetic variation," Mulligan said. "We don't know which elements are more or less important, but we think the whole range of diversity is important to the health of the species. Knowing the genetic makeup of the animals is essential to protect that diversity."

In addition, placing the domestication of the donkey in northern Africa helps scientists better understand the archaeological record and early culture of the area, researchers say.

"Knowing where a domestication event first occurred is important, because there are always cultural ramifications from being first," said Sandra Olsen, Ph.D., curator of anthropology at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, who did not participate in the research. "With a nucleus of animals that can serve as either a food source, transportation or some other purpose, particular cultures acquire advantages that make them more successful than their neighbors. Consider that animals like the horse and the donkey were used for military purposes.

"From the point of view of a biologist or someone who studies animal husbandry, it is interesting to find the source for a species because it can even have veterinary ramifications," she said. "The work done in this project is extraordinary. They located very hard to find samples not common at all in museums, and the archeological specimens are difficult to obtain positive results from because the heat often destroys the organic material. They've made some considerable advances."

Besides revealing that the African wild ass is the living ancestor of today's domestic donkeys, the genetic evidence also reveals that the Somali wild ass is not a living ancestor as once suspected, but closer akin to a more modern cousin.

That leaves a question of a remaining, yet unidentified ancestor of modern donkeys believed to have sprung from a different branch of the family. Researchers suspect that ancestors of this animal are extinct, but they may have roamed the Maghreb of northeastern Africa, and possibly the coast of Yemen.

The research was initiated by funding from the National Science Foundation and also supported by the Wildlife Trust, St. Louis Zoo, Basel Zoo, Liberec Zoo and the Sea World and Busch Gardens Conservation Fund.

Conservation samples were collected by co-authors Patricia D. Moehlman of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Hagos Yohannes of the Eritrea Ministry of Agriculture and Fanuel Kebede of the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority.

University of Florida

RESEARCH ON INSECT HIBERNATION MAY LEAD TO NEW CONTROL MEASURES

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To beat summer heat, winter cold and other harsh environmental conditions, many insects temporarily drop into a state similar to hibernation to conserve energy and reduce stress, and University of Florida researchers say this phenomenon could lead to new pest control methods.

A UF study published in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that different organisms use different mechanisms to reach that resting state, known as diapause.

Scientists are exploring the biochemical processes behind diapause as a first step toward manipulating when and how diapause occurs in pest insect species, said Dan Hahn, an assistant professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

“If you can disrupt diapause, you can change the chances an insect population survives,” Hahn said.

Hahn and postdoctoral associate Greg Ragland have set their sights on two notorious pests: the apple maggot fly, which attacks apples, cherries and blueberries, and the corn earworm, which attacks more than 100 crops, including sweet corn.

Florida is the nation’s No. 1 producer of fresh sweet corn and accounts for about 20 percent of national sweet corn sales. Sweet corn ranks among the state’s top four most valuable vegetable crops, and the corn earworm is one of its most damaging pests.

Diapause helps insects stay synchronized with natural cycles such as temperature, rainfall and food availability, to increase their chances of survival, Hahn said. Pest control applications would involve starting or stopping diapause at times not beneficial to pests. For example, by exposing insects to a chemical that stops diapause, it may be possible to “wake them up” when no is food available, dooming entire populations to starvation.

In the study, Hahn, Ragland and colleague David Denlinger of The Ohio State University studied genes and biochemical pathways involved in diapause for an insect called the flesh fly, which typically feeds on carrion, dung or decaying material.

The flesh fly has little economic impact, but it’s widely used in scientific studies and is one of the few invertebrates that has been investigated for its diapause traits.

The UF team also studied two other commonly researched species whose diapause traits are known: a fruit fly and a nematode. When the team compared the biochemical pathways controlling diapause in those two organisms with those in the flesh fly, they were surprised to find each pathway was different.

Diapause is apparently such a useful trait that it evolved independently in numerous species, Ragland said.

“So, you end up with multiple routes to the same end point,” he said.

One common factor: all three organisms experienced a slowdown in metabolism, presumably to conserve energy.

Eventually, detailed knowledge about the biochemical pathways could enable scientists to design highly specific pesticides that affect only one species, and also broad-spectrum pesticides that affect many species, Hahn said.

The UF study is significant because it’s one of the first comparisons of diapause among different invertebrate species, said Peter Armbruster, a biology associate professor at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

As a result, the study provides a more comprehensive picture of the processes involved in diapause and will be useful to researchers in the future, said Armbruster, who studies diapause in mosquitoes.

(Photo: Tyler Jones, University of Florida/IFAS)

University of Florida

IN THE 'NECK' OF TIME: SCIENTISTS UNRAVEL KEY EVOLUTIONARY TRAIT LEADING TO BETTER BRAIN POWER

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By deciphering the genetics in humans and fish, scientists now believe that the neck -- that little body part between your head and shoulders -- gave humans so much freedom of movement that it played a surprising and major role in the evolution of the human brain, according to Cornell and New York University neuroscientists in the July 27 issue of the online journal Nature Communications.

Scientists had assumed that because the fins on fish and the arms on humans seem to be in the same place on the body, the pectoral fins in fish and the forelimbs in humans are innervated (receive nerves) from the same neurons. Not so.

During our early ancestors' transition from fish to land-dwellers, the researchers say, the source for neurons that directly control the forelimbs moved from the brain into the spinal cord, while the torso moved away from the head and became separated by a neck. In other words, human arms, like the wings of bats and birds, became separate from the head and placed on the torso below the neck.

"A neck allowed for improved movement and dexterity in terrestrial and aerial environments," said Andrew Bass, Cornell professor of neurobiology and behavior and one of the paper's authors. "This innovation in biomechanics evolved hand-in-hand with changes in how the nervous system controls our limbs."

This unexpected level of evolutionary plasticity likely accounts for the incredible range of forelimb abilities, Bass said, from their use in flight by birds to swimming by whales and dolphins, and playing piano for humans.

Cornell University

CSIRO DEVELOPS NEW OIL DETECTION TECHNIQUE

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CSIRO scientists have developed a revolutionary technique for the rapid on-site detection and quantification of petroleum hydrocarbons (commonly derived from crude oil) in soil, silt, sediment, or rock.

Developed in collaboration with waste technology specialist, Ziltek Pty Ltd, the technique means that the presence of petroleum hydrocarbons can now be quantified simply by using a hand-held infrared spectrometer to take readings at the site of interest, without the need to take samples or perform any kind of processing.

The technique could be used for oil exploration purposes. It will also be particularly useful in assessing and monitoring contaminated sites such as coastal land following off-shore oil spills and industrial sites planned for urban redevelopment.

“Petroleum hydrocarbons are a valuable resource, but can also be pretty nasty environmental contaminants,” says CSIRO scientist, Sean Forrester.

“They can remain in the environment for extended periods of time and can be harmful to wildlife, plants and humans. Better tools to detect them makes a rapid response possible.”

The technique uses an infrared signal to detect the presence of petroleum hydrocarbons in samples.

By contrast, current methods use sampling and processing techniques that are labour intensive, time consuming, require sensitive equipment and are not well suited to on-site analysis.

“The ability of this new technique to rapidly detect the presence of contaminants at the site has the potential to provide significant cost advantages, in terms of reduced testing costs and the avoidance of delays,” Mr Forrester says.

“Rapid analysis allows immediate measures to be undertaken to prevent further contamination or to limit contaminant spread.”

A significant portion of the time and financial costs involved in assessing and remediating contaminated sites is consumed by monitoring and analysis.

By decreasing analysis time and reducing costs this new technique can assist in the fast and effective identification of oil and other petroleum products in the environment, as well as treatment and protection of environmental assets threatened by petroleum contamination.

(Photo: Ben Dearman, Ziltek Pty Ltd)

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

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