Robert Michitsch

Robert Michitsch

Robert Michitsch

University of Wisconsin Stevens Point | "Composting deactivation of CWD prions"

Stevens Point, WI | rmichits@uwsp.edu

USCC Member

Since Fall 2009, Dr. Michitsch has held an Assistant/Associate Professor position at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in the Soil and Waste Resources Discipline, which is in the College of Natural Resources. He teaches classes in the areas of soil science and waste management, focusing on soil and plant analysis, biogeochemistry, composting and solid waste management topics. His research interests include the compostability of plastics and polymers, compost microbiology, compost teas, the breakdown of fluoropolymers, prion degradation and waste re-use. Dr. Michitsch has been a member of the USCC Board of Directors for the past 5 years, and is currently a Trustee with the Composting Council Research & Education Foundation. He is currently working with the City of Stevens Point to establish a municipal composting program. From July 2017-2019, he was a lead instructor at the Midwest Compost Operators School.

Session Code: B2

Session Name: Research Updates

Session Time: Tues, January 26, Round 2, 4:00-5:00 PM EST

Session Description: Join the Composting Council Research and Education Foundation for reports on key research they are supporting and encouraging

Presentation Title: Composting deactivation of CWD prions

Presentation Description: Through hunting, slaughtering or ingestion of CWD infected cervids, exposure to specified risk materials is considered an exposure route to prions that might lead to infection. Prions cause transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) diseases in animals and humans. The composting process has proven effective for the biodegradation of some recalcitrant organic contaminants, and the high number of microorganisms and high temperatures achieved during composting have prompted interest in this process for inactivating prions. Since thermophilic temperatures do not definitively cause pathogen reduction, multi-barrier approaches are employed to improve pathogen inactivation. As such, primary-phase duration, C-substrate, compost water content, (an)aerobic conditions, drying, storage, antagonistic microorganisms, geosynthetic materials, NH_3 evolution, and other degradation methods (e.g. incineration) have been used to establish an unstable habitat for pathogen survival. Compost piles offer or complement these different approaches, which may prove useful to degrade infectious prions. Updated project results and future plans will be presented.

Co-Authors: Susanna Baker, UWSP, sbake173@uwsp.edu, Alex Thomas alex.thomas@uwsp.edu