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New detection tests to help monitor bacteria and viruses in waste-water

3. 2. 2021 | 971 visits

Waste-water contains a large number of microorganisms and chemical elements, which are huge stores of information on human health and behaviour. SAS scientists are developing detection methods designed to monitor the presence of bacteria and viruses in sewage.  In the future, they may be part of early warning systems that will be able to detect dangerous and highly contagious pathogens.

Regular monitoring of microorganisms and pathogens in waste-water can help evaluate the health of our cities. Researchers from the Institute of Molecular Biology SAS, together with the Taiwanese partners from the National Cheng Kung University, have recently launched the “Pathogen Tracker” project - Water/Waste-water Epidemiology: Development of Reliable Molecular and Biological Detection Methods for Epidemic Outbreaks.nThey aim to detect antibiotic-resistant bacteria and SARS-CoV-2 and dengue viruses in waste-water.

“Our goal is to develop and optimise several molecular detection tests based on qPCR and RT-qPCR techniques that will alert us not only to the presence, but also on a number of potential pathogens,” explained Domenico Pangallo from the Institute of Molecular Biology SAS. The advantage of such tests is their speed and reliability. 

The in-depth analysis of viral and microbial communities through modern high-throughput sequencing are also part of the research.  “We will compare our results with the results of our project partners in Taiwan. This will allow us to better understand viral and bacterial interactions in the studied environments,” added the molecular biologist.

Organisms, including bacteria and viruses, together with various chemical elements, aggregate in the sewage system and form the so-called “pathogenic community”. Regular monitoring of its composition may be one of the appropriate solutions in the future to deal with other pandemics.

“The ´Pathogen Tracker´ project will until 2023.  It was supported within the bilateral program SAS-MOST Joint Research Projects, which is part of the thirteen-year cooperation between the Slovak Academy of Sciences and the Ministry of Science and Technology in Taiwan.