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Quantification of Salmonella spp. in composted biosolids using a TaqMan qPCR assay.

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Journal of microbiological methods

Elsevier BV

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      Abstract

      Composting is increasingly used to transform biosolids, obtained following wastewater treatment, into a more stable organic product that can be released in the environment. The process must however be closely monitored to assure that the end product meets the regulations set by environmental agencies with regards to the amount of pathogenic microorganisms present. In this study, a TaqMan qPCR approach targeting the invA gene was developed to monitor the presence of Salmonella spp. in composted biosolids. A validation step was first performed to evaluate the effect of compost age on the quantification of various concentrations of seeded Salmonella typhimurium. Secondly, qPCR was used to investigate the effect of composting time, varying from 1 month to 24 months, on the presence of Salmonella spp. naturally present in biosolids samples. Culture media were used in parallel to corroborate the results obtained by qPCR. The detection limit of the invA gene obtained experimentally from composts seeded with S. typhimurium was 5.8 copies or the equivalent of 5.8 CFU per qPCR reaction. Although the results indicated that compost age had a marginal effect on the detection of seeded S. typhimurium, the TaqMan qPCR approach was efficient at detecting and quantifying the amount of Salmonella spp. present in naturally contaminated composted biosolids of different ages. Results showed that there was a significant decrease in the amount of Salmonella DNA present in composted biosolids over time, which was also corroborated by the CFU counts obtained on the BSA culture medium. However, qPCR was more specific, robust and rapid to execute than performing counts on culture media. qPCR shows promise for routine examination of composted biosolids to ascertain that pathogenic microorganisms, including Salmonella spp., are decreased below acceptable limits before their application in the environment.

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      Affiliations
      [1 ] Université de Moncton, Department of Biology, Moncton, NB, Canada E1A 3E9.
      Journal
      J. Microbiol. Methods
      Journal of microbiological methods
      Elsevier BV
      0167-7012
      0167-7012
      Jul 2007
      : 70
      : 1
      17481755 S0167-7012(07)00128-5 10.1016/j.mimet.2007.03.019

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