Development of quantitative real-time PCR assays for detection and quantification of surrogate biological warfare agents in building debris and leachate

Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Pascal E SaikalyFrancis L de Los Reyes

Abstract

Evaluation of the fate and transport of biological warfare (BW) agents in landfills requires the development of specific and sensitive detection assays. The objective of the current study was to develop and validate SYBR green quantitative real-time PCR (Q-PCR) assays for the specific detection and quantification of surrogate BW agents in synthetic building debris (SBD) and leachate. Bacillus atrophaeus (vegetative cells and spores) and Serratia marcescens were used as surrogates for Bacillus anthracis (anthrax) and Yersinia pestis (plague), respectively. The targets for SYBR green Q-PCR assays were the 16S-23S rRNA intergenic transcribed spacer (ITS) region and recA gene for B. atrophaeus and the gyrB, wzm, and recA genes for S. marcescens. All assays showed high specificity when tested against 5 ng of closely related Bacillus and Serratia nontarget DNA from 21 organisms. Several spore lysis methods that include a combination of one or more of freeze-thaw cycles, chemical lysis, hot detergent treatment, bead beat homogenization, and sonication were evaluated. All methods tested showed similar threshold cycle values. The limit of detection of the developed Q-PCR assays was determined using DNA extracted from a pure bacterial cu...Continue Reading

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