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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2008 Apr;74(7):2200-9. doi: 10.1128/AEM.01962-07. Epub 2008 Feb 1.

In situ-synthesized virulence and marker gene biochip for detection of bacterial pathogens in water.

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  • 1Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, A126 Research Complex Engineering, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA.


Pathogen detection tools with high reliability are needed for various applications, including food and water safety and clinical diagnostics. In this study, we designed and validated an in situ-synthesized biochip for detection of 12 microbial pathogens, including a suite of pathogens relevant to water safety. To enhance the reliability of presence/absence calls, probes were designed for multiple virulence and marker genes (VMGs) of each pathogen, and each VMG was targeted by an average of 17 probes. Hybridization of the biochip with amplicon mixtures demonstrated that 95% of the initially designed probes behaved as predicted in terms of positive/negative signals. The probes were further validated using DNA obtained from three different types of water samples and spiked with pathogen genomic DNA at decreasing relative abundance. Excellent specificity for making presence/absence calls was observed by using a cutoff of 0.5 for the positive fraction (i.e., the fraction of probes yielding a positive signal for a given VMG). A split multiplex PCR design for simultaneous amplification of the VMGs resulted in a detection limit of between 0.1 and 0.01% relative abundance, depending on the type of pathogen and the VMG. Thermodynamic analysis of the hybridization patterns obtained with DNA from the different water samples demonstrated that probes with a hybridization Gibbs free energy of approximately -19.3 kcal/mol provided the best trade-off between sensitivity and specificity. The developed biochip may be used to detect the described bacterial pathogens in water samples when parallel and specific detection is required.

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