Selective quantification of viable Escherichia Coli cells in biosolids upon propidium monoazide treatment by quantitative PCR

Taşkın, Bilgin
Density of fecal coliforms (FC) such as Escherichia coli is the most commonly used indicator of fecal pathogen content of biosolids. When biosolids are disposed off or used for soil amendment, they pose public health risks. So far anaerobic digesters have been considered to be an effective treatment option for pathogen and FC reduction in biosolids. However, recent studies revealed that there is a significant re-growth and reactivation of indicator organisms in biosolids upon dewatering by centrifugation. Although the exact mechanism of FC reactivation is yet to be understood, a few extensive recent studies strongly suggest that FC go into a viable but non-culturable (VBNC) state during anaerobic digestion. Therefore, quantitative detection of live cells among the total in biosolids samples, without using culturing-based approaches, is highly critical from a public health risk assessment perspective. Since recent investigations proved the significant re-growth and reactivation of indicator organisms. Persistence of DNA in the environment after cell death in the range of days to weeks limits the application of DNA-based approaches for the detection of live bacteria. Using selective nucleic acid intercalating dyes such as ethidium monoazide (EMA) and propidium monoazide (PMA) is one of the alternative approaches to detect and quantify the viable cells by quantitative PCR. These compounds have the ability to penetrate only into dead cells with compromised membrane integrity. They intercalate in the DNA via photo-inducible azide groups and in turn inhibit DNA amplification during PCR reactions. PMA has been successfully used in different studies and microorganisms but it has not been evaluated sufficiently for the complex environmental samples such as biosolids. In this study Escherichia coli ATCC 25922 and uidA gene were used as model organism and as target sequence respectively in absolute quantification method with real-time PCR. Experiments with the known quantities of live and dead cell mixtures showed that PMA treatment inhibits PCR amplification from dead cells with over 99% efficiency. The results of this study conclusively demonstrated that PMA-modified PCR could be successfully applied to the biosolids when total suspended solid (TSS) concentration is 2000 mg/L or below.


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Citation Formats
B. Taşkın, “Selective quantification of viable Escherichia Coli cells in biosolids upon propidium monoazide treatment by quantitative PCR,” Ph.D. - Doctoral Program, Middle East Technical University, 2011.