#SciBraaiScienceSides

#SciBraaiSides 22 August 2014

Seems like training barefoot can help netball players. And that Gauteng’s food sector needs to brush up on their hand washing skills. And that two new yeast species living on our proteas have been found. And that researchers have sequenced the genome of two South African disease-causing pathogens. All this and more in this week’s Scibraai Sides.

Wash your hands before you touch my sandwich 

“Please wash your hands before you touch my food.” That’s what you rather should ask every time someone sets off to make you a sandwich or a sushi dish, to be on the safe side. 

Research led by Andre Lambrechts of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology found unsatisfactory levels of hand hygiene among food handlers in Gauteng’s convenient food industry. The results were published in the Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences.

The research team wanted to evaluate how much it helped if food handlers washed their hands properly before starting their work.

“Hand hygiene is unsatisfactory and may have serious implications for public health due to contamination of food from food handlers’ hands,” Andre Lambrechts writes about their findings. “This therefore underlined the importance of further training to improve food handlers’ knowledge of good hand washing practices.”

He adds that employees should be trained on how to handle food as well as on sanitation and hand washing techniques, as bacteria from cuts, infections, boils or other communicable diseases may cause food poisoning. People involved with every stage of food production, from farm to fork must take responsibility to prevent infections and destroy pathogens.

Previous research have shown that the hands of ready-to-eat food service employees help to spread spread of foodborne disease, mainly because of poor personal hygiene. This accounts for approximately 97% of food borne illnesses in food service establishments and homes. Stats also show that food poisoning is 70% higher in the food catering industry than in any other sector.

Reference: Lambrechts, A.A. et al (2014). Bacterial contamination of the hands of food handlers as indicator of hand washing efficacy in some convenient food industries in South Africa, Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences

Netball goes bare(foot)

feet-155585_640If some netball players at the recent South African championships in Cape Town perhaps followed the advice of two Stellenbosch University sport scientists, they might not have suffered ankle injuries.

In a study in the International Journal of Sport Science and Coaching, Johanna de Villiers and Rachel Venter showed that training barefoot for at least eight weeks had a positive effect on players’ agility and ankle stability.

“Barefoot training could possibly enhance netball performance and play a role in the prevention of ankle injuries,” concludes de Villiers and Venter.

Reference: De Villiers, J.E. & Venter, R.E. (2014). Barefoot training improved ankle stability and agility in netball players, International 

Journal of Sport Science and Coaching

Digging into the cause of rotten onions

Ever wondered about the genome of a pathogen that causes the centres of onions to rot, and another that causes severe damage to maize?

Then have a look at the research by Tanya Weller-Stuart of the University of Pretoria and her colleagues, published in Genome Announcements. They have sequenced two South African isolates, Pantoea ananatis PA4 (the one that damages onions) and Pantoea ananatis BD442, isolated from brown stalk rot of maize.

Pantoea ananatis is an emerging phytopathogen that infects a broad spectrum of plant hosts, from maize to rice and other economically important agricultural crops.

P. ananatis was first isolated in South Africa from Eucalyptus seedlings displaying blight

Since then it has been isolated as tand dieback symptoms,” explains Weller-Stuart.

he causative agent of brown stalk rot of maize in South Africa. It was also isolated from onion seeds.

Reference: Weller-Stuart, T. et al (2014). Draft Genome Sequences of the Onion Center Rot Pathogen Pantoea ananatis PA4 and Maize Brown Stalk Rot Pathogen P. ananatis BD442, Genome Announcements

Silver sugarbush protea home to new yeast species

yeastJust as one gets many flower species that are only found in South Africa, so one gets specific organisms associated with these plants that are also quite unique, and are endemic to our country.

Two new endemic yeast species were recently described that are quite uniquely linked only to South African proteas and also the insects that live on them. They are Metschnikowia drakensbergensis sp. nov. and Metschnikowia caudata sp. nov.
The work was done by Spanish researcher, Clara de Vega, with the help of Sandy Lynne Steenhuisen of the University of Cape Town and Stephen Johnson of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, among others. The news is published in the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology.

 They found Metschnikowia drakensbergensis sp. nov. in nectar of the silver sugarbush (Protea roupelliae) and a type of beetle.

 Reference: De Vega, C. et al (2014). Metschnikowia drakensbergensis sp. nov. and Metschnikowia caudata sp. nov., two endemic yeasts associated withProtea flowers in South Africa, International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology

 

 

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