The Use of Ribosomal RNA as a Microbial Source Tracking Target Highlights the Assay Host-Specificity Requirement in Water Quality Assessments

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Rytkönen , A , Tiwari , A , Hokajärvi , A M , Uusheimo , S , Vepsäläinen , A , Tulonen , T & Pitkänen , T 2021 , ' The Use of Ribosomal RNA as a Microbial Source Tracking Target Highlights the Assay Host-Specificity Requirement in Water Quality Assessments ' , Frontiers in Microbiology , vol. 12 , 673306 . https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2021.673306

Title: The Use of Ribosomal RNA as a Microbial Source Tracking Target Highlights the Assay Host-Specificity Requirement in Water Quality Assessments
Author: Rytkönen, Annastiina; Tiwari, Ananda; Hokajärvi, Anna Maria; Uusheimo, Sari; Vepsäläinen, Asko; Tulonen, Tiina; Pitkänen, Tarja
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Food Hygiene and Environmental Health
University of Helsinki, Food Hygiene and Environmental Health
University of Helsinki, Lammi Biological Station
University of Helsinki, Lammi Biological Station
University of Helsinki, University of Helsinki
Date: 2021-06-02
Language: eng
Number of pages: 16
Belongs to series: Frontiers in Microbiology
ISSN: 1664-302X
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/331808
Abstract: For microbial source tracking (MST), the 16S ribosomal RNA genes (rDNA) of host-specific bacteria and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of animal species, known to cause fecal contamination of water, have been commonly used as molecular targets. However, low levels of contamination might remain undetected by using these DNA-based qPCR assays. The high copy numbers of ribosomal RNA (rRNA) could offer a solution for such applications of MST. This study compared the performance of eight MST assays: GenBac3 (general Bacteroidales), HF183 (human), BacCan (dog), Rum-2-Bac (ruminant), Pig-2-Bac (swine), Gull4 (gull), GFD, and Av4143 (birds) between rRNA-based and rDNA-based approaches. Three mtDNA-based approaches were tested: DogND5, SheepCytB, and HorseCytB. A total of 151 animal fecal samples and eight municipal sewage samples from four regions of Finland were collected for the marker evaluation. The usability of these markers was tested by using a total of 95 surface water samples with an unknown pollution load. Overall, the performance (specificity, sensitivity, and accuracy) of mtDNA-based assays was excellent (95-100%), but these markers were very seldom detected from the tested surface water samples. The rRNA template increased the sensitivity of assays in comparison to the rDNA template. All rRNA-based assays (except Av4143) had more than 80% sensitivity. In contrast, only half (HF183, Rum-2-Bac, Pig-2-Bac, and Gull4) of rDNA-based assays reached this value. For markers targeted to bird feces, the use of the rRNA-based assay increased or at least did not change the performance. Regarding specificity, all the assays had >95% specificity with a DNA template, except the BacCan assay (71%). While using the RNA template for the assays, HF183 and BacCan exhibited only a low level of specificity (54 and 55%, respectively). Further, the HF183 assay amplified from multiple non-targeted animal fecal samples with the RNA template and the marker showed cross-amplification with the DNA template as well. This study recommends using the rRNA-based approach for MST assays targeting bird fecal contamination. In the case of mammal-specific MST assays, the use of the rRNA template increases the sensitivity but may reduce the specificity and accuracy of the assay. The finding of increased sensitivity calls for a further need to develop better rRNA-based approaches to reach the required assay performance.
Subject: microbial source tracking
performance analysis
field validation
ribosomal RNA
RT-qPCR
fecal contamination
surface water
MITOCHONDRIAL-DNA MARKERS
FECAL CONTAMINATION
PCR ASSAYS
GENETIC-MARKERS
CATELLICOCCUS-MARIMAMMALIUM
QUANTITATIVE DETECTION
CAMPYLOBACTER SPP.
CANADA GOOSE
WASTE-WATER
BACTEROIDALES
1172 Environmental sciences
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