Source Molecular Corporation emphasized the importance of having more laboratories capable of microbial source tracking (MST) at the 11th Los Angeles Environmental Forum held in the San Gabriel Hilton from August 7 to 11, 2018.
The forum, with the theme “Improve Air Quality and Protect Water Resources,” was hosted by the Southern California Chinese American Environmental Protection Association (SCCAEPA). The Association has more than 500 registered members who work in scientists, engineers and government administrators roles in U.S. government agencies, academia, and environmental consulting companies.
Dr. Yiping Cao, Source Molecular’s Vice-President for Technology, gave a talk about “Scaling up Microbial Source Tracking through Automation”. MST’s popularity among water managers has been growing over the years. They use MST to determine sources of fecal contamination in the water. Compared to traditional methods using fecal indicator bacteria, MST targets genetic markers unique to human and animal hosts. It is faster and more flexible than culture-based methods.
However, the number of existing MST laboratories is limited. It is not easy to build an MST lab. It requires a high-level of training and specialized equipment. According to Dr. Cao, automation is the key to solve these barriers. From acquisition of qPCR reagents/consumables, to setup of qPCR reactions, to qPCR data analysis and reporting, Dr. Cao said, the goal is to automate this entire process.
Through automation, sophisticated genetic testing will be more accessible. It will minimize unnecessary hands-on work and time, improve standardization, decrease technical barrier, training and maturation time, increase sustainability of acquired qPCR capacity, and improve data usability for management decision making.
To get more details about how automation of MST would look like and how it would work, contact Dr. Cao at email@example.com. Source Molecular is currently the only commercial laboratory in the United States providing Droplet Digital Polymerase Chain Reaction (Digital PCR) service in the field of environmental water testing. It also has the distinction of being the only commercial MST laboratory in the world that has ISO/IEC 17025:2005 accreditation. Source Molecular has more than 15 years of experience in MST technology.