qPCR (quantitative polymerase chain reaction) tools allow for real-time quantification of specific DNA strands. With qPCR we can look for specific DNA in a mixed sample and rapidly quantify the amount of that DNA present. So how can qPCR be used to monitor wastewater treatment systems?
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:
Erik Rumbaugh has been involved in biological waste treatment for over 20 years. He has worked with industrial and municipal wastewater facilities to ensure optimal performance of their treatment systems. He is a founder of Aster Bio (www.asterbio.com) specializing in biological waste treatment.
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