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Crit Rev Microbiol. 2004;30(3):145-72.

Molecular biology and DNA microarray technology for microbial quality monitoring of water.

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National Research Council of Canada, Biotechnology Research Institute, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


Public concern over polluted water is a major environmental issue worldwide. Microbial contamination of water arguably represents the most significant risk to human health on a global scale. An important challenge in modern water microbial quality monitoring is the rapid, specific, and sensitive detection of microbial indicators and waterborne pathogens. Presently, microbial tests are based essentially on time-consuming culture methods. Rapid microbiological analyses and detection of rare events in water systems are important challenges in water safety assessment since culture methods present serious limitations from both quantitative and qualitative points of view. To circumvent lengthy culture methods, newer enzymatic, immunological, and genetic methods are being developed as an alternative. DNA microarray technology is a new and promising tool that allows the detection of several hundred or even thousands DNA sequences simultaneously. Recent advances in sample processing and DNA microarray technologies provide new perspectives to assess microbial water quality. The aims of this review are to (1) summarize what is currently known about microbial indicators, (2) describe the most important waterborne pathogens, (3) present molecular methods used to monitor the presence of pathogens in water, and (4) show the potential of DNA microarrays in water quality monitoring.

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