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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2013 May;79(9):2891-8. doi: 10.1128/AEM.00205-13. Epub 2013 Feb 22.

Simultaneous quantification of multiple food- and waterborne pathogens by use of microfluidic quantitative PCR.

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Division of Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan.


The direct quantification of multiple pathogens has been desired for diagnostic and public health purposes for a long time. In this study, we applied microfluidic quantitative PCR (qPCR) technology to the simultaneous detection and quantification of multiple food- and waterborne pathogens. In this system, multiple singleplex qPCR assays were run under identical detection conditions in nanoliter-volume chambers that are present in high densities on a chip. First, we developed 18 TaqMan qPCR assays that could be run in the same PCR conditions by using prevalidated TaqMan probes. Specific and sensitive quantification was achieved by using these qPCR assays. With the addition of two previously validated TaqMan qPCR assays, we used 20 qPCR assays targeting 10 enteric pathogens, a fecal indicator bacterium (general Escherichia coli), and a process control strain in the microfluidic qPCR system. We preamplified the template DNA to increase the sensitivity of the qPCR assays. Our results suggested that preamplification was effective for quantifying small amounts of the template DNA without any major impact on the sensitivity, efficiency, and quantitative performance of qPCR. This microfluidic qPCR system allowed us to detect and quantify multiple pathogens from fecal samples and environmental water samples spiked with pathogens at levels as low as 100 cells/liter. These results suggest that the routine monitoring of multiple pathogens in food and water samples is now technically feasible. This method may provide more reliable information for risk assessment than the current fecal contamination indicator approach.

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