A Complementary Isothermal Amplification Method to the U.S. EPA Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction Approach for the Detection of Enterococci in Environmental Waters

C. Kolm, R. Martzy, K. Brunner, R.L. Mach, R. Krska, G. Heinze, R. Sommer, G.H. Reischer, A.H. Farnleitner

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We report a novel molecular assay, based on helicase-dependent amplification (HDA), for the detection of enterococci as markers for fecal pollution in water. This isothermal assay targets the same Enterococcus 23S rRNA gene region as the existing quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) assays of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Methods 1611 and 1609 but can be entirely performed on a simple heating block. The developed Enterococcus HDA assay successfully discriminated 15 enterococcal from 15 non-enterococcal reference strains and reliably detected 48 environmental isolates of enterococci. The limit of detection was 25 target copies per reaction, only 3 times higher than that of qPCR. The applicability of the assay was tested on 30 environmental water sample DNA extracts, simulating a gradient of fecal pollution. Despite the isothermal nature of the reaction, the HDA results were consistent with those of the qPCR reference. Given this performance, we conclude that the developed Enterococcus HDA assay has great potential as a qualitative molecular screening method for resource-limited settings when combined with compatible up- and downstream processes. This amplification strategy can pave the way for developing a new generation of rapid, low-cost, and field-deployable molecular diagnostic tools for water quality monitoring. © 2017 American Chemical Society.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)7028-7035
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2017

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