Genetic markers used to detect bacteria in water

The establishment of genetic markers for bacteria in water, food, and biological and medical samples allows rapid and accurate identification of bacteria such as E. coli, say researchers in Israel who have developed the new technique.


The new test produces results within one to three hours, compared to a wait of several days for current tests, say the researchers from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.

“The research will improve the sensitivity, speed of detection and identification of bacteria such as E. coli,” said Dr Hallerman, one of the researchers. “Because the test is rapid, sensitive and specific, it may be important as a microbial test of food and of water supplies to protect against terrorist attack.”

The researchers found that bacterial DNA sequences contain thousands of non-coding sequence repeats, or simple sequence repeats (SSRs), in effect, ‘junk’ information. They found that the SSR marker sites are different in each bacterial strain, providing a unique ‘fingerprint’.

“Potentially, we can assign each bacterium an identity card,” said Dr Yechezkel Kashi of the Institute. “Only, instead of nine digits per identity number, imagine thousands.”

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