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Wastewater Surveillance


Wastewater surveillance has been used to measure the prevalence of infectious diseases within a population and may complement current testing methods to monitor COVID-19 in our communities. Complex environmental matrices are often challenging for traditional molecular methods such as qPCR due to the abundance of inhibitory substances.

Droplet Digital PCR (ddPCR) provides an ultra-sensitive and highly-precise absolute quantification of nucleic acid sequences. Since ddPCR does not require a standard curve and has increased sensitivity and precision, labs are able to achieve reproducible results with minimal lab-to-lab variability. ddPCR measures absolute quantities by counting nucleic acid molecules encapsulated in discrete and volumetrically defined water-in-oil droplet partitions. Droplet Digital PCR has been shown to be more sensitive, precise, and tolerant to inhibitory substances when compared to other molecular methods for quantification of RNA viruses found in water samples. The SARS-CoV-2 ddPCR test is based on highly sensitive and precise Droplet Digital PCR technology and is optimized for use on Bio-Rad Droplet Digital PCR Systems.

  • High sensitivity and precision in low viral abundance samples
  • Resistant to inhibition often seen in RT-PCR testing
  • Single-well test — 3 sequences aligned to CDC markers: SARS-CoV-2 N1 and N2 genes, human RPP30 gene

Precision and inhibitor tolerance are also important when detecting SARS-CoV-2 for environmental testing. Learn how others have implemented Droplet Digital PCR to detect SARS-CoV-2 on workplace surfaces.

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Using Droplet Digital PCR to Monitor Environmental Contaminants in Water

Researchers Yiping Cao and John Griffith of the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project (SCCWRP) describe their work using Bio-Rad's Droplet Digital PCR platform to determine variations in water quality from coastal watersheds to the ocean. Environmental monitoring for genetic targets such as pathogens, invasive species, or other biological activity requires the ability to detect small target concentrations within complex, nonuniform samples.

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