The molecular (genetic testing) process normally starts with a full microbial census using advanced metagenomic sequencing. This test gives information on all organisms present in the wastewater and in what relative quantities. A more complex test, metagenomics gives us information on the microbial dynamics of the system. More importantly, we can identify the top species for "doing the work" and problematic organisms.
Once we have the key organisms both good and bad identified, we can create qPCR oligonucleotides to detect specific organisms in the system. Given advances in molecular testing, we can build customized testing kits without delay. This kit allows for rapid, real-time quantification and tracking of the key organisms. At my company, Aster Bio, we are using in-house metagenomic and qPCR testing to improve wastewater molecular testing. Environmental Genomics is our combination of tests and wastewater organisms databases that are cost-effective ways to use molecular testing in monitoring and controlling wastewater treatment units. Examples of qPCR applications include:
- System specific filamentous organisms (more quantitative than microscopic exam)
- Nutrient removal organisms such as AOB/NOB, Bio-P
- Specific degraders for resistant compounds
- Organisms associated with good and bad EPS production