• Wed, Apr 23 2008

The Case of Hannah Poling Again

According to an April 22nd Scientific American piece about the case of Hannah Poling—the 9-year-old Georgia girl whose “pre-existing mitochondrial disorder…. was ‘aggravated’ by her shots” according to a concession by the federal government and who was awarded a settlement:

“….. scientifically, from the documents presented in the vaccine court, the Polings did not make a case that deserved compensation.”

Here’s why their case did not deserve compensation, as noted by Nikhil Swaminathan in Scientific American:

Hannah’s disorder is likely due to a rare mutation in her DNA. Most of the DNA responsible for mitochondria is inherited from mothers, because mitochondrial genes are carried in the egg but not sperm. Salvatore DiMauro, a mitochondria expert at Columbia University, notes that the point mutation mentioned in Poling’s case history–published in the Journal of Child Neurology–would imply that both she and her mother carried the genetic variation in all their tissues. So, he says, “you would expect to see the same results” in both the mother and the daughter. But Poling’s mother, Terry, who is an attorney and a registered nurse, is not autistic.

That suggests the genetic defect responsible for Poling’s condition is part of her nuclear DNA, which is separate from the mitochondrial variety, says DiMauro. This means that, scientifically, from the documents presented in the vaccine court, the Polings did not make a case that deserved compensation. (Attempts to contact Jon Poling about DiMauro’s concern went unanswered; however, he agreed that his daughter’s causative genetic defect was likely not in her mitochondrial DNA in an open letter on the blog NeuroLogica.) [my emphasis]

Mitochondria are often called the “power plants” of cells because they convert sugar into energy. Found in all of the body’s tissues and organs, “when they do not work properly they can cause or worsen diseases from diabetes to brain disorders.” But, according to Swaminathan, Hannah Poling’s “genetic defect” was not caused by her mitochondrial DNA, but is a part of her nuclear DNA, which is inherited from both parents.

Dr. John Shoffner, a neurologist, geneticist, and mitochondrial disease expert, agrees with this conclusion:

…. In a study of 40 patients with autism—including Poling, he found that two thirds had muscle weakness. If muscle weakness is seen early on in children, it may be a tip-off to an underlying mitochondrial disorder that could cause autism, because muscles are heavily dependent on mitochondria as an energy source. He also believes that the new work—he presented preliminary results last week at the American Academy of Neurology Conference in Chicago—will help explain why some children, such as Poling, experience worsening symptoms as a result of a fever.

He notes that the route from the vaccine to the child’s autism was by no means direct. Hannah’s mitochondria were already underperforming, so when she developed a fever from her vaccine, the increased energy requirements likely pushed them past their thresholds. A fever caused by an ear infection or the flu would likely have triggered the autism symptoms if they occurred before or between the ages of 24 and 36 months, he says, which is when classic, regressive autism, which affects one third of sufferers, usually appears.[my emphasis]

Shoffner notes that parents and advocates looking to impugn vaccines as triggers for autism—or mitochondrial disease—need direct, not just circumstantial, evidence……..

Jon Poling, says Shoffner, has been “muddying the waters” with some of his comments. “There is no precedent for that type of thinking and no data for that type of thinking,” Shoffner says.

What’s not “direct,” Dr. Shoffner notes, is how vaccines may have “caused” autism in Hannah Poling whose mitocondria were “already underperforming” when she received her vaccinations. And isn’t the alleged role of vaccines in “triggering” autism in Hannah precisely why this case has received so much attention? And what if the role of vaccines in “causing” autism in Hannah is, as  Scientific American suggests,  as “direct” as it has been made to seem?

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  • http://www.liquidzeoliteplus.com liquid zeolite

    Is the fact Mercury causes Mito Dysfunction relevant here? What about the fact fluoride causes the destruction of digestive enzymes and the buildup of toxins like Mercury? Can this 1-2 punch be what causes Autism? Would any doctor dare stand up to the fluoride industry which is a national security issue for those in power? Can anyone here stand up with a straight face and tell me that fluoride doesn’t cause enzyme damage and gut problems that can lead to toxic build-up?

    I pray that anyone reading this do the following then report back if it helped:

    1) Replace fluoride toothpaste with Toms natural toothpaste.
    2) Give your autistic child ONLY distilled water spiked with some liquid vitamins-minerals.
    3) Introduce digestive enzymes and probiotics into their food.
    4) Avoid all bottled liquids, refined foods, etc. Go on the Feingold diet if possible.

    Thanks for listening. Mike

  • stopautismquackery

    Mike: A large portion of ppl (in Cailf) I know do most all that (1-4) anyway and have done so for decades, for the most part, myself included. The ‘report back’ to you, I can give now: It has virtually no affect on ASDs. Period.

  • http://crimsonthought.blogspot.com/ Cliff

    “Is the fact Mercury causes Mito Dysfunction relevant here? What about the fact fluoride causes the destruction of digestive enzymes and the buildup of toxins like Mercury? Can this 1-2 punch be what causes Autism? Would any doctor dare stand up to the fluoride industry which is a national security issue for those in power? Can anyone here stand up with a straight face and tell me that fluoride doesn’t cause enzyme damage and gut problems that can lead to toxic build-up?”

    I haven’t made this kind of post in a bit, since it’s like draining the Danube with a dixie cup, but every so often…

    To your rhetorical questions:

    1. Well, that was presumptuous, even for a rhetorical question. If it did, it would be, if it isn’t, it wouldn’t be. But we’re talking about the concept, and since it is (despite all evidence) a question, it’s relevant to discuss (though you could say it shouldn’t be).
    2. I haven’t even seen substantial evidence that it has this effect at all, less than a substantial effect that would effect the development of children. So it might have been more useful to talk about the theory itself.
    3.Maybe. But it also could be the fault of Star, my adorable Labrador. And since we’re just talking about hypotheticals that aren’t totally contradictory to the evidence, he needs to be discussed, too. But there shouldn’t be an issue with that; after all, who doesn’t want to talk about a Labrador?
    4. Actually, a doctor could well say that, and believe me, he’d get a whole slew of political support from every anti-establishment politician looking to get elected, given the amount of support behind that kind of thinking. It’d even win out in academic circles, too, if it had merit.
    5. No, but can you stand up to me with a straight face and tell me that Star doesn’t cause autism? When you do that, I can too, because I’ll assert probability, which you’d have to too. But since I don’t want to do that, I won’t, and I’ll simply remind you that I’m a reasonable skeptic without a shred of evidence to support your point and more against it.

    As to the rest; you’re actually asking for anecdotal evidence? I think that there are people who are more equipped to explain this point(we have wonderful science types here, and I’m quite honestly not one of them, though I can look through the evidence and ideas when I see them), so I’ll just leave it at anecdotal evidence doesn’t give any strong support at all. I’d talk about it in terms of psychological effects and placebo studies, but since it’s kinda late here (understatement, as I look at my clock), I’m not going to.


  • It won’t matter

    To the antivax enthusiast the distinction between mitochondrial and genomic DNA means nothing. When one desires to see something through to the end, any mountain of science can be “dis-reasoned” away.

    And Mike, it’s aqueous, not liquid, and that will occur only at very low concentration. Zeolite-autism is snake oil.

  • http://storkdok-nos.blogspot.com/ Storkdok


    I use Tom’s toothpaste because it is made in Maine! As for the rest of your questions, I will have to agree with Cliff here.


    As I have lived on the banks of the Danube, I have to agree with the analogy of draining it with a Dixie cup!


    Very interesting! I wonder why they didn’t present this evidence in court? They might have and I missed it, as I am hit or miss with news these days. Thanks for the update!


  • http://mayas-corner.blogspot.com Maya M

    After the Poling case gained publicity, a number of people who only a year ago didn’t know what a mitochondrion is (and, I strongly suspect, still don’t know), suddenly became experts in mitochondria and what can damage them.
    I cannot claim to be an expert, but throughout my study nobody mentioned that mitochondria can be damaged by common environmental toxins (in relevant concentrations) or by vaccine components (again, in relevant concentrations).
    Because of their similarities to bacteria, mitochondria can be damaged by some antibiotics. But this interests nobody because the season is open for vaccines, not for antibiotics. (Don’t be too much afraid of antibiotics, the effect I am speaking about is known and accounted for.)
    If mitochondrial DNA is mutated, this is either spontaneous or caused by mutagens – a group of factors NOT identical to toxins. I don’t remember either mercury or fluoride listed among important mutagens. But it is never too late to learn new things.

  • http://www.mumkeepingsane.blogspot.com Leanne

    As with Cliff, I’ve been trying not to respond like this but here goes….

    My son has never, to my knowledge, been exposed to flouride in either water or toothpaste. He also, us living in Canada, did not have any vaccines containing mercury (I triple checked this). And, if it matters, was definately showing autism “signs” before any vaccinations at all. Oh, wait, he also does ingest some probiotics and we eat a very “natural food, nothing processed” kind of diet. No bottled drinks, little refined products, mostly organic…..not perfect I’m sure but surely the cookies he had last week didn’t cause his autism years ago. The only food the kid had before he showed autism type symptoms was breast milk and I will say that my diet was extremely good.

    Ok, you get the idea. My report back is…ta dah, my son is autistic. So, since you’re asking for anectodal data, there you go.

    As for why my husband and I are only “wierd” and “socially different” and our son is more severely affected…the answer is, NOBODY KNOWS!

  • MJ

    “This means that, scientifically, from the documents presented in the vaccine court, the Polings did not make a case that deserved compensation”

    From what I understand from this statement the author of the article is implying that they have access to the documents filed with the court to support the case. I was under the impression that the information was still sealed, and if it is, wonder what is the basis for statement.

  • http://mayfly mayfly

    Is spontaneous mutation of mitocondrial DNA unheard of?

    Conditions such as Downs have their severity linked to the number of cells which show the trisomy 21 condition. Any chance of such a variance in mitocondrial DNA

  • http://mayfly mayfly

    My word of the day Heteroplasmy

    From Wikipedia

    Heteroplasmy is the presence of a mixture of more than one type of an organellar genome (mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) or plastid DNA) within a cell or individual. Since every eukaryotic cell contains many hundreds of mitochondria with hundreds of copies of mtDNA, it is possible and indeed very frequent for mutations to affect only some of the copies, while the remaining ones are unaffected.

    I did a search on mitocondrial DNA and found

    Journal Article
    Devic’s neuromyelitis optica and mitochondrial DNA mutation: a case report
    A. Ghezzi, S. Baldini, M. Zaffaroni, G. Leoni, T. Koudriavtseva, A. R. Casini and M. Zeviani

    …a young woman with Devic’s neuromyelitis optica and 3460 homoplasmic mitochondrial DNA mutation
    Neurological Sciences, Volume 25, Supplement 4 / November, 2004

    In this case the subject’s mother and grandmother had the mutation in a “heteroplasmic” way but were asymptomatic

  • Jess

    I’m not saying that I’m antivax. My fourteen month old daughter is up to date with all her vaccines however as with every April since she was born I get a little worried about the up coming vaccines and try to do some research and make a decision.
    I was curious about this:

    Journal of Child Neurology–would imply that both she and her mother carried the genetic variation in all their tissues. So, he says, “you would expect to see the same results” in both the mother and the daughter. But Poling’s mother, Terry, who is an attorney and a registered nurse, is not autistic.

    Haven’t the vaccines changed quite a bit since Hannah’s mother was a child. Aren’t there more now and do you think they are more toxic now?

  • http://daisymayfattypants.blogspot.com/ Emily

    I find the way they describe the science here interesting and have some questions about it–although they’re the experts and I’m not with this particular area of biology. But we’ve always taught in Genetics classes–upper division bio courses–that inheritance of the actual mitochondria can be kind of like a poker game: some people get doled out better mitochondria from the mother than other people. Mom may have some or even many mitochondria with the mutation, but maybe not all of them. When the egg that led to Hannah was made, Mom’s mitochondria were doled into the egg, but not all mitochondria go into the egg because the cell divided a couple of times, and the mom’s mitochondria were assorted among the resulting cells. Thus, some of the resulting cells (not really able cells, but we don’t need to get into that) may have received a great poker (mitochondria) hand, while the cell that was the egg that led to Hannah may have received a pretty poor hand–i.e., all “bad” mitochondria. For this reason, it is possible for the mother to carry the mito mutation but be unaffected and for the daughter to inherit a greater frequency per cell of bad mitos and have a disorder as a result.

    As for new mutations in mitochondria–these are comparatively rare in the context of mutations in genomic DNA because mito DNA is, in large part, highly conserved–meaning it goes unchanged–because usually, any changes mean an inability for a cell to function, which means…no growth.

    As for the question about vaccines…probably the least safe vaccine once was smallpox vax. I’ve had that, but most younger people today have not. I’m guessing Hannah Poling’s mother probably got that one, too, and it’s a doozy. So…no, vaccines were not safer “back then.”

  • http://daedalus2u.blogspot.com/ daedalus2u

    The lifetime of mitochondria is only a few months. After a few months they are all replaced with newly generated mitochondria. Any mitochondrial “damage” that persists longer than a few months can only be due to damage to the mitochondrial or genomic DNA that codes for the proteins in mitochondria.

    A spontaneous mutation of mitochondrial DNA can easily happen, and does happen all the time. It affects only those mitochondria descended from that mutated mitochondrial DNA. If the mutation is bad, and all resulting mitochondria are fatally flawed, then the cell those mitochondria are in will die. 99.999999% of the other cells in the body won’t have that same mitochondrial DNA mutation and won’t be affected by it.

    In other words, if mitochondrial DNA is mutated, it can only affect the one cell that mutant mitochondria is in. The few hundred billion other cells in the body can’t have that same mitochondrial DNA mutation and so can’t be affected by it.

    The only way every mitochondria in a person’s body can be affected in the same way, and can have the same DNA mutation, is if that mutation happened while that person was still a single cell. If it happened later, it could not have been the same in each cell and in each mitochondria.

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  • Patrick

    And doesn’t distilled water usually come from bottle, making a contradiction for #4 AND #2 in response #1?

    Now why don’t you go out and find us some peer reviewed articles to cite instead of trying to order us to do your (burden of proof) footwork?

  • stopautismquackery

    Jess asks:
    “Haven’t the vaccines changed quite a bit since Hannah’s mother was a child?”

    Yes, under today’s schedule, a child is exposed to far fewer antigens than they were in the past, as is my understanding.

    [However, this is negated -- and antigen exposure increases even higher than in the past -- when one bypasses the current schedule and does the one-at-time or DAN-Cult pseudo scheduling].

  • http://daedalus2u.blogspot.com/ daedalus2u

    It is my understanding that both Hannah and her mother are homoplasmic for the mitochondrial DNA difference that they have, and that it isn’t clear that that difference results in any pathology.

  • http://daisymayfattypants.blogspot.com/ Emily

    Daedalus, you’re right–I forgot about their homoplasmy, and I didn’t read anything about it in the above article; hence my confusion over the expert statements. Now I recall that the mother and daughter are homoplasmic for a mutation that appears to be benign (based on the mother’s lack of pathogenesis).

    At any rate, all I was saying was that if Hannah’s mother had any “good” mitochondria in addition to the “bad” ones, she (the mother) may have enough backup good ones to preclude the manifestation of any mitochondrially related pathology, but if Hannah inherited a higher frequency of “bad” mitochondria/cell than her mother has, that might have tipped her over the edge to pathology.

    What about issues of penetrance? Perhaps it’s a combination of the mtDNA mutation and a difference in Hannah’s nuclear DNA compared to her mother’s, a combination that resulted in the pathology? That would mean that it’s not a *single* genetic “defect,” but the combination of effects. Of course, there’s no way to address that currently with this single datapoint. The mtDNA change is in a highly conserved region, yes? Seems like it would do something all on its own if it were going to do anything.

    I’m asking about these potential interactions because obviously, not all people with mitochondrial disorders have autism, so that takes us again back to ye olde multifactorial etiology. I’m sure that this examination of mitochondria in the backdrop of genomic DNA will yield some interesting possibilities.

  • http://daisymayfattypants.blogspot.com/ Emily

    Sigh. Articulation disorder today. That second paragraph above is simply a conditional scenario. I realize with the mother-daughter homoplasmy, that’s not the case here.

  • http://daedalus2u.blogspot.com/ daedalus2u

    As I remember the substitution is in the gene that codes for the RNA involved in protein synthesis from mtDNA. If it caused a problem, the problem would be in synthesis of mitochondrial proteins, not a specific defect in a specific mitochondrial coded part of the respiration chain.

    Mitochondrial failure during sepsis is universally observed if the sepsis is severe enough. It can and will happen even if there are no defects in the mitochondria.

    I am working on a blog explaining the details of that but it is taking longer than I had hoped for (too many other things are intervening).

  • http://liquidzeoliteplus.com Mike

    Here is a study that suggests Mercury causes mito-d: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17405690?ordinalpos=5&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

    “Mercury induces mitochondrial dysfunction with reduction in ATP, depletion of glutathione, and increased lipid peroxidation; increased oxidative stress is common.”

    Here is a link full of studies that support the fact fluoride destroy’s enzyme:


    Dr. Wolfgang Klein and co-workers at the Seibersdorf Research Center in Austria reported that 1 part per million fluoride inhibits DNA repair enzyme activity by 50%. Since fluoride inhibits DNA repair enzyme activity, fluoride should also be expected to lead to an increase in genetic or chromosome damage.

    This has indeed been found to occur in numerous studies showing that fluoride in water, even at the concentration of 1 part per million, can cause chromosome damage.

    The following table outlines the results of laboratory studies regarding the effect of fluoride on genetic damage in mammals. (list of 11 studies from different countries around the world)

    Fluoride and lower IQ human studies:

    You want studies, I give you studies.

  • http://liquidzeoliteplus.com Mike

    Patrick, I have a distiller, so I don’t used bottled. (need one? I can sell you one, lol) However, bottled distilled water is much better than bottled spring water or tap water. Only arsenic is more toxic than fluoride of all the toxic substances known to man.

  • http://daisymayfattypants.blogspot.com Emily

    That one-part-per-million mouse study is 40 years old. Are there any recent publications on this? The table on the link you provided shows that there were chromosomal damage effects close to 20% even in water with zero parts per million fluoride.

  • http://liquidzeoliteplus.com Mike

    There are hundreds of studies, most in Chine from what I’ve seen. That’s the problem; why not in the US? Why is fluoride a scared cow? Here is a link to many studies: http://www.slweb.org/bibliography.html

    Here are a few recent studies to A single ingestion of as little as 3 mg of fluoride, in carefully controlled clinical trials, has been found to produce damage to the gastric mucosa in healthy adult volunteers. No research has yet been conducted to determine the effect of lower doses with repeated exposure. http://www.fluoridealert.org/health/gi/#clinical1

  • stopautismquackery

    Mike: Why don’t you post a P&L statement. I’d be interested in how much you’re making off this venture.

  • http://daisymayfattypants.blogspot.com Emily

    Fluoride is a scared cow? Now I’m just confused.

    Anyway, I looked at some of the more recent abstracts. 500 ppm? Damn. That’s a LOT of fluoride. Looks like China has a little cottage industry of fluoride studies going. Unfortunately, I see only one study that specifically mentions mitochondria. It’s about chickens.

  • http://www.liquidzeoliteplus.com Mike

    stopautismquackery, I’d be happy to tell you how much my new website is making. It cost me $5000 to build and so far the sales (1 month) have been around $5000. My air purifier and ozone business however makes me $50,000 a month. The main reason for my interest in Autism, I have a 2 and 4 yr old and my best friends 5 yr old just developed autism after a slew of shots. They’re suing the doctor for administering so many shots at once (he was behind, had to get them for school). Hence, I’m helping them by providing their kid with supplements that are helping him. I am 100% sure I will be able to cure his child and bring him back the smart, happy go lucky kid that payed with my 4 yr old. I could post info on how I’ve helped, what I’ve given him to sell product, but to me, that would be unethical, so I never will. I don’t even mention it on the website except for a general page on “helping with autism symptoms”. The more I learn, the more I’ll be able to protect my children. I already know we don’t have any genetic reasons for them to develop autism, but then again, neither did my friend. My attention is not focused on preventing them from getting any fluoride into their system (even though I did that before, but not to the extent I do now) I don’t allow them to drink any juices, drinks, NOTHING except the distilled water I make with maybe some liquid vitamins added for good measure. They don’t drink milk. They don’t eat refined foods that might be made with fluoride any more. They don’t get any fish that might have Mercury. They the sure the heck won’t ever get vaccinated again. The air in our home is clean room clean. I damn near want to pull a Michael Jackson and cover their mouth and nose with a mask when they go outside but I’m not that crazy. Besides, I know the detox products I give them help them flush all the crap they get in their system from the environment anyway.

    No on to Emily. Keep studying the subject. Obviously you’re not “getting it” as most studies suggest 1PPM (including a gov study) causes cancer and all kinds of other diseases due to the fact fluoride even at 1PPM (the amount they put in water) destroys enzymes needed for good health. Also, please answer this question after you do some more research. Yes or no, is fluoride more toxic than lead? How is fluoride eliminated from the body? Where does the body store this toxin? Google fluoride cancer, fluoride danger and tell me what you learn. Tell me how fluoride got into our water system and provide me with ONE article that suggests it’s safe. Just one, that’s all I ask. Even the tobacco companies were able to find corrupt doctors and scientists who would swear their product was safe and thus produced mountains of literature and studies to support that claim. Find me one study on the safety of fluoride consuming this product, more toxic than lead, into our systems and more importantly, in the bodies of infants and young children with weak immune systems.

  • http://crimsonthought.blogspot.com/ Cliff

    NEVER presume in an argument that someone “doesn’t get it”, just like that, and especially then in the same breath ask someone to Google something, especially when they essentially claim that they have looked through materials related to the subject (by implication).

    Oh, and fluoride, from what I found, was considered to be naturally occurring in water…


  • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

    @Maya M,

    “it is never too late to learn new things”—

    Yes for sure—I’ve learned more than I can say from everyone here. Thank you!

  • http://daisymayfattypants.blogspot.com Emily

    Hi, Mike. How about if you Google ME, and then get back to me about what I’m not getting about environmental contaminants. I didn’t actually mention 1 ppm, I mentioned FIVE HUNDRED ppm. And a 40-year-old study is just that: 40 years old.

    Irony much?

    Emily J. Willingham

  • http://daisymayfattypants.blogspot.com Emily

    While you’re at it, Mike, please feel free to search me in the PubMed database. Cheers.

  • http://storkdok-nos.blogspot.com/ Storkdok

    Emily, I got 20 hits with your name! Very impressive research you are doing.

    Mike, when did you get your medical degree? Admitting to treating and curing patients could get you into some hot water without a medical license. And how many publications do you have?

  • http://daedalus2u.blogspot.com/ daedalus2u

    It was one of Emily’s earlier papers that was instrumental in my formulation of my understanding that a change in the basal level of NO affects all NO mediated pathways with no threshold.

    When a compound is used as a signaling control parameter, it is already in the “active range”. A change in the level changes the output of that control loop. Emily’s paper was about steroids and endocrine disruption, but the same concept holds for any signaling molecule.

    As far as endocrine disruption goes, all steroids are metabolized by the cytochrome P450 enzymes which are regulated by NO. A change in the basal level of NO will affect the output of each pathway mediated by the cytochrome P450 enzymes, including steroid pathways.

    A change in the basal NO level will cause endocrine disruption (not might, will). Physiology can’t compensate because it is the compensatory pathways themselves that are affected.

  • http://daisymayfattypants.blogspot.com Emily

    Daedalus, we’ve talked about your ideas, and I find them very interesting. If I hadn’t sworn off what I consider to be largely unnecessary research involving vertebrate animals, I’d probably be in there, poking around on this one.

  • http://daedalus2u.blogspot.com/ daedalus2u

    Actually I think that some of the endocrine disruption observed in wild animals due to xenobiotic chemicals in the environment may be due to disruption of natural biofilms of the bacteria I am working with. Many reptiles have their gender determined by the temperature at which their eggs incubate. The eggs are buried in the soil, where the bacteria I am working with are abundant, as the developing eggs release ammonia due to deamination of amino acids, where does the ammonia go? If it is oxidized by these bacteria, that will affect steroid metabolism.

    If the bacteria are inhibited, by antibiotics, by nitrification inhibitors, by atrazine, by alkylbenzene sulfonate detergents (toxic to them at ppm levels), steroid physiology will be different in the developing reptile (or amphibian) eggs.

  • http://daisymayfattypants.blogspot.com Emily

    Hi, Daedalus–

    That would work, except that we get the same results with the contaminants using sterilized substrate, and our eggs are not laid in soil.

  • http://daedalus2u.blogspot.com/ daedalus2u

    I wasn’t able to find a study where they had used sterilized substrate, but then I haven’t looked that carefully.

    There have been no studies that looked specifically for these bacteria during egg incubation and I have found them on the surface of a turtle in a large enough concentration that NO level from the surface of the turtle was increased by spraying a NH4Cl solution on it. It would be difficult to avoid innoculation of the eggs while they are being laid.

    In alligators, the nest is a big pile of stuff that actually heats up due to bacterial action. The environment the developing eggs are exposed to is a complex mix of temperatures, O2 levels, CO2 levels, humidity, and levels of bacterial metabolites.

    Even if there is an effect of xenobiotics in sterile media, in “the wild”, there is no sterile media and the loss of these bacteria might be part of the variability in the results that have been reported. The bacteria have different susceptibility to different xenobiotic agents and that may relate to whole organism effects of xenobiotic agents.

  • http://daisymayfattypants.blogspot.com Emily

    We used heat-sterilized perlite or vermiculite, so no natural soil for our eggs. That’s not to say that they didn’t pick up bacteria on their way out–undoubtedly, they did. But I always noticed that there was a lot of bleach around at the commerical suppliers where we picked up our eggs. However, that said, we ourselves put a lot of ethanol on them–it was our solvent–and presumably, that would kill quite a few of the microbes. We also managed typically to get predicted sex ratios out of our eggs, based on whichever temperature we were using (e.g. 100% females at 31 C; 100% males at 26 C). It was rare to get anything outside of these predicted outcomes at the 100% extremes. The wild, of course, is completely different.

  • http://daedalus2u.blogspot.com/ daedalus2u

    In the absence of nitrifying bacteria, ammonia has no where to go and accumulates to toxic levels. It is virtually impossible to run an aquarium without nitrification going on without killing everything with ammonia build-up. I presume that would hold in soil too.

    Nitrifiers are somewhat resistant to bleach. Salmonella is the usual bacteria of concern in turtles and they are more sensitive to bleach than are nitrifiers.

    Embryonic turtles could accumulate ammonia as urea. But if a few eggs died, the ammonia from them could conceivably kill the whole nest.

  • http://stopthinkautism.blogspot.com/ S.L.

    I’m going to have to link to you again on my blog! :) I’ve got so much on mito, I have to add this too. I’m glad to hear Shoffner speaking out, I was hoping he would (& really wondered his perspective, having met him previously). I think this says it all:

    “There is no precedent for that type of thinking and no data for that type of thinking,” Shoffner says.

    Thanks for writing on this, I had missed this one!

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