Journal of Microbiological Methods vol:97 pages:6-14
Candidatus Microtrhix parvicella is one of the most common filamentous bacteria reported to be involved in bulking and foaming problems in activated sludge plants worldwide. In order to detect and quantify both M. parvicella and Microthrix calida by quantitative PCR (qPCR), primers targeting 16S rDNA genes were designed. The qPCR reaction was optimized by using the TaqMan technology and an internal positive control was included to ensure the absence of PCR inhibitors. A total of 29 samples originating from different wastewater treatment plants were analyzed and the results were compared by using conventional microscopy, fluorescent in situ hybridization and an existing SYBR Green-based assay. Our assay showed a 100% specificity for both M. parvicella and M. calida, a sensitivity of 2.93 × 109 to 29 copy numbers/reaction, an amplification efficiency of 93% and no PCR inhibition. By performing a spiking experiment including different Microthrix concentrations, recovery rates ranging from 65 to 98% were obtained. A positive correlation with the SYBR Green assay (R2 = 0.85) was found and most of the samples were in accordance with the microscopical observation. In comparison with SYBR Green assay, the probe-based TaqMan assay had a much lower detection limit. Compared with microscopy, some samples had a lower or higher enumeration when using qPCR. In conclusion, a qPCR method is forwarded here that could be useful as an early warning tool for fast and reliable detection of Microthrix in for instance sludge bulking events.