Research Institute for Exotic Species Microbiology.

bodisky

Arachnoknight
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May 25, 2003
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163
Hello all!
Several microbiologists and other talented scientists have started the Research Institute for Exotic Species Microbiology. We need the help of all who can participate. I am posting the intro/explanation sheet separately (I hope I do this right) so that all may read it and understand what we are about, what we need and what we hope to acheive. This sheet is not written in stone and will evolve with the research. Please feel free to email me at bodiskyme@yahoo.com if you have any questions. We look forward to working with all of you.
Thanks for your time!
Kerry Gowin
 

bodisky

Arachnoknight
Old Timer
Joined
May 25, 2003
Messages
163
Research Institute into/explanation part one

Research Institute for Exotic Species Microbiology

The purpose of the Institute is to support research into the microbiology of exotic species of plants, animals and microorganisms. This research is conducted in a variety of areas including: normal microbial ecology or flora, microorganism caused or vectored disease of exotic species and potential for transmission of exotic species microorganisms to humans.

The Tarantulas, and similar giant spiders, are common invertebrate pets, being kept and bred by thousands of enthusiasts world wide. In spite of the popularity of these animals, virtually nothing is known about the normal microbial flora, and diseases of these beneficial spiders. While it is highly unlikely, given the popularity of the Tarantula as a pet, it is unknown if this group of spiders carries potential human pathogens or if Tarantula pathogens are transmittable to humans.

This current program of study is designed to enumerate the normal bacterial, fungal and protozoan populations residing in and on the more popular species of Tarantulas. Incidental to this process will be the beginnings of an investigation of Tarantula infectious disease.

The Research Institute for Exotic Species Microbiology is a non-profit organization founded to support research by contracting and providing grants to private and institutional researchers in the area of its interests. Application for Tax exempt charitable status (501 C 3) is being processed.

The Institute seeks the cooperation and donations of members of the Tarantula hobby and supplier communities to help carry out its research endeavors. At this time, and for the foreseeable future, all activities of the Institute are voluntary and no salaries are paid. Office space and related services are being donated. Grants made to researchers will be limited to funding for supplies and equipment, education and travel for conferences. An internet domain www.exoticmicro.com has been obtained and an informational website is being donated by the Parabola Group, Inc.

The goals and research of the Institute are beneficial to all members of the hobby and supply communities as well as the welfare of wild and pet Tarantulas world wide. Support, in the form of donations of cash, specimens, office and printing materials and services are respectfully solicited and gratefully received.



A Call for Healthy Specimens
Most people think of disease causing germs when they think of bacteria and other microorganisms. In reality, a very small minority or microbes are pathogenic, that is they can cause disease in man, animals or plants. The truth is we and all living things are immersed in a fluid of air and live on a planet surface teaming with billions of minute organisms that can not be seen without a microscope. More than 99% of these organisms are to our benefit; they protect us from disease causing bacteria, help digest our food, fix nitrogen in the soil, produce the oxygen we breath, clean up the environment in ways too numerous to mention.

This is true, not only of people, but of all living things including the spiders. While the normal resident microbes, called the “normal flora,” of man and most domestic animals have been well studied, that is not the case with most beneficial arthropods and especially true of the Tarantula.

We need to understand the normal flora of Tarantulas so that we can understand what is normal and what causes disease in these creatures. In this way when diagnostic tests are made on a sick Tarantula, we can know whether a recovered, or “cultured,” organism is the cause of the disease or simply a normal resident. This is also important in understanding what antibiotic or other remedies to use; a drug that kills the normal flora may expose the Tarantula to even worse infections from competing organisms.

To do this we want to find out what organisms constitute the normal flora of the twelve most common captive Tarantulas 1. Grammostola rosea 2. Aphonopelma seemani 3. Avicularia avicularia 4. Brachypelma albopilosum 5.Theraphosa blondi 6. Grammostola pulchra 7. Brachypelma smithi 8.Eupalaestrus campestratus 9. Pterinochilus murinas 10. Citharischius crawshayi 11. Haplopelma lividum 12. Poecilotheria regalis.
As we learn more we hope to expand the study to other species and to wild living Tarantulas as well.

The Institute and its cooperating laboratories will provide the necessary supplies for you to collect specimens for this study. It is important that specimens from a wide variety of habitats in various parts of the world be studied so that we can determine the range and variation of normal flora in a variety of environments.
We sincerely hope all Tarantula enthusiasts will want to participate in this important project. Members of the Institute plan to attend Tarantula group meetings to discuss this project and to demonstrate methods for collecting study specimens.

We have selected a self-contained swab and Amies Culture medium package made by Copan for use in this project. The Copan swab is designed to protect both air loving (aerobic) and air hating (anaerobic) microorganisms during transportation to the laboratory and to prevent overgrowth of any fast multiplying organisms. The microbiology laboratory that will provide a donation of the initial bacteriology services is Parabola Laboratory Services of Arlington, WA.
 

bodisky

Arachnoknight
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May 25, 2003
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163
Research Institute part two

Collecting Specimens for the Normal Flora Study

It is very important that specimens be collected in a standardized manner to allow comparison of the results from one location to another. Selection of the collection methods is very arbitrary and is designed for simplicity.

A standardized kit will be provided for collecting samples from a single animal. The kit consists of five Copan Amies Agar Culture and transportation tubes and a single small sterile amber vial.

Being extremely careful to avoid touching the swab or stick to anything, lightly swab (or roll) the cotton tipped applicator over the area to be studied and then push the tip into the jelled culture medium. Be sure to label the culture swab.

Swab the following arias, each with a separate swab.

1. The upper, dorsal, surface of the carapace and abdomen
2. The lower, ventral, surface of the carapace and abdomen
3. The mouthparts being careful to capture some gastric fluid, at the end of a meal.
4. The book lungs
5. The fang with excreted venom if possible

With a tweezers collect as many fecal droppings as possible and place in the small amber vial.

Please ship these specimens with a standard ice pack in a Styrofoam box using overnight Express Mail – Express Mail is the Postal Service overnight system and is the least expensive of the overnight services. Naturally other services can be used if preferred.

Collect and mail your specimens to assure that the package arrives at the laboratory on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. The address for the lab is:

Parabola Laboratory Services
307 North Olympic Ave
Suite 209
Arlington, WA 98223

If there are problems you may contact the lab at (360) 435-5540 or 360-435-5540 or by cell phone at 206-795-5124.





A Call for Specimens from Sick Tarantulas

In parallel with the Institute’s normal flora project is a project to begin to study infection, infestations and other diseases of the Tarantula. This research seeks to identify the microbial diseases of Tarantulas caused by bacteria, fungi, protozoa and nematodes and other parasites. We do not currently have available facilities or staff to study viral diseases of spiders but would solicit the participation of a virology laboratory in this project.

It is important to understand that this is a research project and not a diagnostic laboratory study. The researchers are scientists and Tarantula hobbyists and are not veterinarians. In spite of this disclaimer, the researchers will cooperate in every way possible with owners of sick animals and their veterinarians but can accept no responsibility for the results of any information provided.

One benefit of this study will be the compilation of antibiotic sensitivity data on those organisms causing disease in the Tarantula. We solicit the cooperation of a veterinarian in selecting appropriate anti microbial agents for study.

The Institute will accept swabs, preserved parasites and related materials at the Parabola Laboratory Services location. In addition, a Tarantula autopsy service will be offered to members of the community by Institute member Kerry Gowin at her laboratory in Justin, Texas.

Address specimens for autopsy to:
Kerry Gowin
123 Hummingbird Lane
Justin. TX 76247

Mrs. Gowin can be contacted at 940-648-1879 or cell phone: 940-206-6235


Collecting Specimens from Sick Tarantulas

In general collect as much material as is available. The same Copan swabs used in the normal flora collections are excellent for collecting material for diagnostic culture. Swab pus, hemolymph, and fluids with the cotton tipped applicator and place deeply into the jell culture medium. Carefully scrap dry lesions or scabby type material and pick them up with the swab and place them in the culture jell. If parasites are present or if a portion of the animal falls or breaks off place those solid specimens in small bottles of rubbing alcohol. Request a biopsy bottle from either lab and when you receive the biopsy bottle transfer the specimen(s) from the alcohol to the biopsy bottle containing formalin. (Note formalin as a poison and a skin irritant.)

If a Tarantula dies or must be euthanized you may request an autopsy and related microbiological studies by contacting Kerry Gowin at her laboratory in Justin Texas.

For requested autopsy on tarantulas time is of the essence to ensure proper dissection procedure and collection of material for diagnostic purposes. Ideally the specimen needs to be kept cold and shipped overnight with accompanying cold pack within 24 hours from the time of death. Another alternative method is to put the entire specimen into a bottle with at least 70% isopropyl alcohol or formalin and shipped out immediately. Autopsy photographs, some microscopic, will be taken and supplied to the donor if requested. Please note that microscopic photographs of tarantulas work best if the specimen is relatively dry. Due to the refractive nature of alcohol and formalin and its collection on the many hairs of the tarantula, photography is at times difficult.
 

bodisky

Arachnoknight
Old Timer
Joined
May 25, 2003
Messages
163
Research Institute for Exotic Species Microbiology

Research Progress Report

This is a report to the tarantula keeping community regarding the current status of our research on t normal flora and disease. It is very important to state that we are just beginning and we are a long way from any significant conclusions, at the same time we are making progress.

First the particularly hot summer has worked against us in getting specimens from across the country to our laboratories in Texas and Washington State. In spite of the use of cold packs, every specimen arrived with the ice packs completely melted and the specimens overgrown with a mixture of microorganisms. This makes isolation and recovery of organisms of interest difficult.

The reason for this phenomenon is the fact that bacteria of entomopathological interest grow at a lower temperature than most environmental bacteria and are at a competitive disadvantage compared to environmental and contaminates bacteria. The second reason is that entomopathogenic bacteria are particularly well suited to the insect and other arthropods as well as to their nematode partners that they have poor competitive skills in transport medium.

To deal with this problem we have invested in Styrofoam specimen containers, which should provide good protection in all but the most hot and cold weather. During the hottest and coldest weather we will provide additional outer Styrofoam containers to provide complete safety. However, it must be stressed that even with these containers our window for receipt of specimens remains very small especially for autopsy. Deceased T’s must be shipped chilled and overnight within 24 hours of death. If the T is shipped submerged in alcohol there isn’t such a rush but there will be no bacterial studies done for obvious reasons.

Now for some good news. We have been able to identify many T inhabiting organisms, one of which defies the books of current knowledge. We are beginning to get a picture of what may be naturally occurring bacterial flora as opposed to less friendly “bugs.” We have also been able to extensively photograph and document nematodes in cheliceral tissues. This particular discovery was made possible by the quick actions of Rhys Brigida and his generous donation of his infected G. pulchra. Previously, nematodes were found in the digestive tracts, anal and mouth areas of an infected T.

After careful consideration, we have elected not to wait for the “Good Fairy” to give us a grant for the rapid bacterial identification from BioLog. We believe BioLog is the best choice for our work. We have purchased a combination of second best identification systems. The BBL Crystal identification systems for gram positive and enteric/non-fermenter organisms were selected along with the Remel system for Coryniform organisms. This may seem a little complicated but we think it is important to let you all know what we are doing.

Kerry needs to expand her laboratory and is doing so and Larry needs to get the new identification systems in place and operational so we are going to have a moratorium on normal flora studies until the first of December. Kerry has also had a serious injury to her wrist and an extensive illness of a family member. At this writing she is unable to perform autopsies of any kind and unable to accept sick T’s. She hopes to continue normal duties in six to eight weeks pending orthopedic evaluation.
After October first, if there is interest, Larry is willing to perform antibiotic sensitivity examinations on isolates from sick T’s. This service is designed to help you and your (or one of our) vets to select an appropriate antibiotic for the organism making your T sick. This is highly expensive and we are going to have to ask for a donation of $20 per case to perform this service. Of course Larry will NOT set up to do this unless the community expresses an interest in this service.
Finally, we understand that many folks are not comfortable with handling their T’s in such a way as to obtain culture swabs. Based on fang size alone in some T species, we are sympathetic. There is, however, an important aspect of our research that everyone can participate. We would like to conduct a fecal flora survey from both captive and wild T species. All species are welcome. The specimens are easily obtained by either touching a swab to the anal area of the T or touching the swab to a fecal smear that often occurs on the sides of an enclosure.
We continue to be in great need of donations and professional assistance, i.e., veterinarians, virologists, nematode researchers, mite researchers, etc etc. If you can help in any way we would love to hear from you.
We would like to thank all of those that have participated in our work so far and please continue to show us your support. We welcome all and encourage all to participate. So far, this research has been a rough road but we carry on with the hope that we may be of some assistance to tarantulas and to the people who love them.
 

Schlyne

Arachnoangel
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Joined
Nov 19, 2004
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846
Why isn't this thread (or something like it) a sticky? It takes forever to dig through the threads to find the address to RIESM. (especially if you don't know what RIESM stands for).
 

bodisky

Arachnoknight
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May 25, 2003
Messages
163
Schlyne said:
Why isn't this thread (or something like it) a sticky? It takes forever to dig through the threads to find the address to RIESM. (especially if you don't know what RIESM stands for).
Hello!
We are working on that very thing. So much has changed and so much has stayed the same. HA!
Anyway, we (RIESM= Larry Boyd and I) have new been going through many growing pains yadda yadda...We will be posting everything we have accumulated so far on the AB soon. Really looking forward to that! We have nearly five years of research, some of it casual, some of it anecdotal, some of it proven..etc..My personal opinion is that any and all information is valuable regardless of "scientific" validity. Most especially in this hobby. The observations of hobbyists are more often than not simply ignored, overlooked or dismissed simply because there is no degree designation behind their name. That is just damn stupid. RIESM is an unusual institution in that it is hobbyist friendly and includes and welcomes hobbyists. We have taken a lot of heat for that in the past and I am sure it will continue.
Anywho, right now I am popping in and posting if I see I can be of any help.
RIESM can always be reached at my addy bodiskyme@yahoo.com or PM me here if anyone needs anything.
Thanks for your post!
Kerry
RIESM
 

bodisky

Arachnoknight
Old Timer
Joined
May 25, 2003
Messages
163
Hello again!
I just talked to Larry RIESM co-founder. We have much good news! Finally Larry has "official" lab space/equipment donated by and inside a college complete with an Electron Scanning Microscope! Thank god. For those of you that know us you what a struggle we have had to get what we need. We still need many things but this is a huge step for us, for the hobby and most importantly for tarantulas.
Now we can really start research and continue the research we have started!
I plan to fly up to the lab soon to take a peek and maybe instruct a few on tarantula dissection skills, hemolymph collection (a little scary when you are using a needle) tarantula anesthesia etc. Also, we have Chris who is handling our normal colony study T's. Chris if you are reading this can you PM me? He is up there with Larry in WA. I'm in Texas all by my lonesome....
Larry will be sending pics of the lab as it progresses. Its a bunch of boxes right now but we thought you might like to see the progress. A side note about Larry. Larry is a microbiologist and in the beginning not a tarantula hobbyist. However he is willing to sacrifice many things (like a huge chunk of personal cash) to help this hobby. Recently he has become the proud owner of two tarantulas! Now how cool is that? I think that speaks volumes about his character. Poor guy was attacked on another list because he didnt own tarantulas. Good grief.
The RIESM info above was a sticky at one point as Scott and Deb are super and did that for us. Things have changed so much since then we are going to revamp all of that except of course our research results.
Thanks for bearing with us and sorry for the long post!
Kerry Gowin
RIESM
 

shogun804

Arachnogeneral
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Oct 5, 2004
Messages
1,392
this is very exciting, congrats on everything and really look forward to reading and learning about the studies and info you all have gathered.

PS: scanning electron microscopes are absolutely incredible :drool:
 

bodisky

Arachnoknight
Old Timer
Joined
May 25, 2003
Messages
163
shogun804 said:
this is very exciting, congrats on everything and really look forward to reading and learning about the studies and info you all have gathered.

PS: scanning electron microscopes are absolutely incredible :drool:

Thanks for the thoughts!
Best regards,
Kerry
RIESM
 
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