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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 40 No. 2, p. 449-461
     
    Received: Sept 24, 2010


    * Corresponding author(s): japedersen@soils.wisc.edu
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doi:10.2134/jeq2010.0412

Fate of Prions in Soil: A Review

  1. Christen B. Smitha,
  2. Clarissa J. Boothb and
  3. Joel A. Pedersen *c
  1. a Environmental Chemistry and Technology Program, Univ. of Wisconsin, 1525 Observatory Dr., Madison, WI 53706
    b Molecular and Environmental Toxicology Center, Univ. of Wisconsin, 1525 Observatory Dr., Madison, WI 53706
    c Dep. of Soil Science, Civil & Environmental Engineering and Environmental Chemistry and Technology Program, Univ. of Wisconsin, 1525 Observatory Dr., Madison, WI 53706. Assigned to Associate Editor Keith Goyne

Abstract

Prions are the etiological agents of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), a class of fatal neurodegenerative diseases affecting humans and other mammals. The pathogenic prion protein is a misfolded form of the host-encoded prion protein and represents the predominant, if not sole, component of the infectious agent. Environmental routes of TSE transmission are implicated in epizootics of sheep scrapie and chronic wasting disease (CWD) of deer, elk, and moose. Soil represents a plausible environmental reservoir of scrapie and CWD agents, which can persist in the environment for years. Attachment to soil particles likely influences the persistence and infectivity of prions in the environment. Effective methods to inactivate TSE agents in soil are currently lacking, and the effects of natural degradation mechanisms on TSE infectivity are largely unknown. An improved understanding of the processes affecting the mobility, persistence, and bioavailability of prions in soil is needed for the management of TSE-contaminated environments.

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Copyright © 2011. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyAmerican Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America