Thursday, July 3, 2008

Pathogenic microbes in paper industry?

A paper industry professional (graduated in technical, not in any biological department) discussing with IM. - Every sentence in this story is fictional one (like they tend to tell at the end of many movies) but they base on those years (nearly 30), during which IM has been involved in P&P microbiology and they, in a way, are a condensate of frequent discussions about microbiological topics on the meetings and in the paper mills:

- You have told us that there may be over million living bacteria in every milliliter of white water inside a paper machine?
- Yes. High number of scientific reports by independent researchers can confirm it.
- What about viruses?
- Obviously there are viruses - but not those which are pathogenic to man. Viruses of paper industry will infect bacteria, they are called bacteriophages.
- What is the reason for the fact, there are no viral human pathogens?
- No significant source of those viruses - you can find them in waste waters of villages and big cities but, as you understand, people tend not to release their viruses into paper machine processes...and...
- And...?
- If there were viruses, pathogenic to man, they should have host cells...
- Wait a minute...bacterophages infect bacteria...
- You got it! And human viruses need human cells as hosts - they cannot reproduce themselves outside their host cells.
- Genetics..I know. And specified viruses to infect specified cells...
- Yes. They shall, in a way, "match" together.

A moment of silence. Fish are jumping on the lake, western horizon turns from yellow to darker shades.

- What about bacteria? If there really are so many there?
- That is a much longer story. We will discuss about hazards, caused by the bacteria, tomorrow morning.
- O.K. It is a late evening, sun has just gone down and..
- ...and the best time of the day for fishing!


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