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Huan Jing Ke Xue. 2012 Nov;33(11):4040-5.

[Selective detection of viable pathogenic bacteria in water using reverse transcription quantitative PCR].

[Article in Chinese]

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  • 1State Key Joint Laboratory of Environment Simulation and Pollution Control, School of Environment, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China.


A reverse transcription q quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) assay method was established, which can quantify the copy numbers of RNA in pathogenic bacteria of E. coli and Enterococcus faecium. The results showed that cDNA was generated with the RT-PCR reagents, target gene was quantified with the qPCR, the copy numbers of RNA were stable at about 1 copies x CFU(-1) for E. coli and 7.98 x 10(2) copies x CFU(-1) for Enterococcus faecium respectively during the stationary grow phase for the both indicator bacteria [E. coli (6-18 h) and Enterococcus faecium (10-38 h)]. The established RT-qPCR method can quantify the numbers of viable bacteria through detecting bacterial RNA targets. Through detecting the heat-treated E. coli and Enterococcus faecium by three methods (culture method, qPCR, RT-qPCR), we found that the qPCR and RT-qPCR can distinguish 1.43 lg copy non-viable E. coli and 2.5 lg copy non-viable Enterococcus faecium. These results indicated that the established methods could effectively distinguish viable bacteria from non-viable bacteria. Finally we used this method to evaluate the real effluents of the secondary sedimentation of wastewater treatment plant (WWTP), the results showed that the correlation coefficients (R2) between RT-qPCR and culture method were 0.930 (E. coli) and 0.948 (Enterococcus faecium), and this established RT-PCR method can rapidly detect viable pathogenic bacteria in genuine waters.

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