Friday, March 7, 2008

Monitoring / Red Flags / E. Coli

Beginning from where? My Biology classes have been studying Mitosis. A bit out of sequence, but I stumbled upon several excellent Mitosis videos that clarified the air. Also included were two videos that cleared up confusion about Protein expression. With a self-congratulatory smile, I listened to students, again and again, saying "Now I get it." Just three hours collecting together Google Videos: time well worth wasting.

Along the way, the second day, students were finishing their seatwork on the stages/snapshots of mitosis. I also showed 2 time lapse videos of bacterial fission. One of them concluded that in 48 hours of unbridled division at 20 minute intervals, the progeny of one E. coli would have a mass 4 times that of the Earth.

May I digress?

What is E. coli? Escherichia coli is a symbiont in the human gut:

Escherichia coli (pronounced /ˌɛʃɪˈrɪkiə ˈkoʊlaɪ/) (E. coli), is a bacterium that is commonly found in the lower intestine of warm-blooded animals. Most E. coli strains are harmless, but some, such as serotype O157:H7, can cause serious food poisoning in humans, and are occasionally responsible for costly product recalls. The harmless strains are part of the normal flora of the gut, and can benefit their hosts by producing vitamin K2, or by preventing the establishment of pathogenic bacteria within the intestine.

E. coli are not always confined to the intestine, and their ability to survive for brief periods outside the body makes them an ideal indicator organism to test environmental samples for fecal contamination.

The DEQ posts on line Beach Reports. Red Flags refer to the beaches listed in these reports. Red Flags are also posted in the local newspapers. A separate web page explains the beach monitoring program.

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