Over the last decades, various PCR-based methods have been proposed that can identify sources of faecal pollution in environmental waters. These microbial source tracking (MST) methods are powerful tools to manage water quality and support public health risk assessment. However, their application is limited by the lack of specialized equipment and trained personnel in laboratories performing microbiological water quality assessment. Here, we describe a novel molecular method that combines helicase-dependent amplification (HDA) with a strip test for detecting ruminant faecal pollution sources. Unlike quantitative PCR (qPCR), the developed HDA-strip assay only requires a heating block to amplify the ruminant-associated Bacteroidetes 16S rRNA marker (BacR). Following HDA, the reaction mixture can be directly applied onto the test strip, which detects and displays the amplification products by marker-specific hybridization probes via an on-strip colorimetric reaction. The entire assay takes two hours and demands no extensive practical training. Furthermore, the BacR HDA-strip assay achieved comparable results in head-to-head performance tests with the qPCR reference, in which we investigated source-sensitivity and source-specificity, the analytical limit of detection, and the sample limit of detection. Although this approach only yields qualitative results, it can pave a way for future simple-to-use MST screening tools.
- DNA Helicases/chemistry
- DNA, Bacterial/genetics
- Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques
- RNA, Ribosomal, 16S/genetics