Study of wastewater enables detection and control of rodent infestations in cities
- Montserrat Carrascal, from the Spanish National Research Council (IIBB-CSIC): "The study of wastewater is a great source for the detection of rodents in any city around the world or, if sampling is performed at specific points in the sewer, a rodent map can be created".
- This is one of the discussions on environmental analysis and food safety that has taken place in the framework of the scientific congress organized by CSIC and ICRA in Barcelona.
Barcelona has hosted the 18th Annual Workshop On Emerging High-Resolution Mass Spectrometry (HRMS) And Lc-Ms/Ms Applications In Environmental Analysis And Food Safety, organized by CSIC and the Catalan Institute for Water Research (ICRA). A space for debate whose objective is to promote the exchange of information between scientists from academia, government agencies and industry.
Damià Barceló, director of the ICRA and president of the scientific committee of the meeting, said that "the presence in our country of a congress of these characteristics with more than 130 experts from around the world proves, once again, the ability to convene and international leadership to attract and share new ideas and the latest advances in mass spectrometry".
One of the talks given was by Montserrat Carrascal, from the Spanish National Research Council (IIBB-CSIC), who stated that "rodent pests are a danger to human health due to the diseases they can transmit through the bacteria that infect them and the transmission of fleas, ticks and mites. They also compromise the integrity of infested structures and, once established, are very difficult to eliminate. In large cities, rats live in the sewers. If no control action is taken, these rodents can live up to 7 years and breed up to 4 times a year with an average of 10-14 offspring, so the number varies rapidly in a few months."
Various strategies are currently used for surveillance of these pests, generally based on counting animals and extrapolating them to the total population. The number of animals in large cities is usually referred to as the number of rodents per inhabitant. For example, it is estimated that in the city of Barcelona there may be one rat for every 4 inhabitants, and some estimates speak of up to 10 rodents per inhabitant in New York. However, there is no standardized method to determine their numbers, estimate population density or understand their population dynamics.
Monitoring rodent pests in wastewater using environmental proteomics
In a study led by Carrascal, from the Biological and Environmental Proteomics Group at IIBB-CSIC in Barcelona, a strategy has been developed using wastewater for the detection and quantification of rodents based on the detection of rodent-specific proteins.
Rat feces, like human feces, contain proteins that are secreted in the pancreas, which perform their function during food digestion and are subsequently eliminated. The detection of these enzymes, pancreatic amylases, in wastewater indicates the presence of live animals, and quantification relative to human amylase could allow us to monitor the increase or decrease of rodent feces in these samples.
Thus, the study of wastewater is a great source for the detection of rodents in any city around the world or, if sampling is performed at specific points in the sewer system, to create a rodent map. This paper shows the potential of this tool for rodent detection using our sewage water.
The organization of the 18th Annual Workshop On Emerging High-Resolution Mass Spectrometry (HRMS) And Lc-Ms/Ms Applications In Environmental Analysis And Food Safety was supported by SCIEX, Agilent and Shimadzu as silver sponsors, ThermoFischer Scientific and Walters as bronze sponsors, and by Elsevier, WEC&N, Springer and King Saud University.