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The inhibitory effects of a mercury compound silver nitrate and copper sulfate on Bacillus cereus Escherichia coli Micrococcus luteus and Pseudomonas putida Introduction Certain heavy metals can have harmful or inhibitory effects on microorganisms a process known as oligodynamic action for example some heavy metal ions accumulate in cellular proteins leading to protein denaturation and ultimately cell death Biology 108 lab manual 2001 A consequence of this is that heavy metals can affect organisms higher up in the food chain a process called biological magnification One particular heavy metal mercury has an unusual ability to be concentrated in living tissues Brock and Madigan 1991 In addition to the dubious effects of heavy metals certain bacteria can have harmful effects on organisms In May of this year E coli O157H7 was blamed for the deaths of 7 inhabitants of Walkerton Ontario Mossman 2001 Therefore in addition to studying heavy metal effects it is also important to study bacteria in an attempt to learn how they may be controlled This experiment attempts to accomplish this Recent research in the area of oligodynamic action has focused on the injury by heavy metals in Escherichia coli Cenci et al 1985 and the resistance to heavy metals by Pseudomonas aeruginosa De Vicente et al 1990 In this study the inhibitory effects of a mercury compound silver nitrate and copper sulfate on Bacillus cereus Escherichia coli Micrococcus luteus and Pseudomonas putida were examined In particular the zone of inhibition for each heavy metal in relation to each bacterium was examined A zone of inhibition can be defined as the diameter of the area where no bacterial growth occurs around a paper disk impregnated with the heavy metal solution The results of this experiment are expected to show that heavy metal treatments affect the growth of bacterial cultures in a negative way more specifically it is felt that the mercury solution will create the largest zone of inhibition This is based
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