Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

A Mobile Laboratory Enables Fecal Pollution Source Tracking in Catchments Using Onsite qPCR Assays

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Rixia ZanORCiD, Dr Kishor Acharya, Adrian Blackburn, Professor Chris Kilsby, Professor David WernerORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Onsite molecular diagnostics can revolutionize fecal pollution source tracking. We aimed to validate a method for onsite qPCR assays with a miniature speaker-sized Q qPCR instrument and other portable equipment items. We showed that marker genes for total bacteria (16S) and E. coli (rodA) in 100 mL of river water measured with this method agreed within ±0.3 log10 units with results obtained when using conventional laboratory equipment items. We then deployed the portable method in a mobile laboratory (‘lab in a van’) and quantified HF183 marker genes for human host associated Bacteroides in river water within 3 h of sampling. We also used the mobile laboratory to investigate urban river water and effluents from two storm drains and a retention pond and collected comprehensive microbial and physicochemical water quality data. We found significantly higher HF183 gene levels in the older storm drain compared to the river water (6.03 ± 0.04 vs. 4.23 ± 0.03 log10 gene copies per 100 mL), and a principal component analysis revealed that storm drain effluent retention in a pond beneficially altered water characteristics, making them more like those of the receiving river. In conclusion, onsite qPCR assays can be performed with portable equipment items to quickly test water.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Zan R, Acharya K, Blackburn A, Kilsby CG, Werner D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Water

Year: 2022

Volume: 14

Issue: 8

Online publication date: 11/04/2022

Acceptance date: 07/04/2022

Date deposited: 09/05/2022

ISSN (electronic): 2073-4441

Publisher: MDPI


DOI: 10.3390/w14081224


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric


Funder referenceFunder name