Wednesday, 31 March 2010

DNA chip for the detection of fungi in the air.

This recent article (as yet uncorroborated by a published scientific paper) suggests that a device has been developed which can detect and identify several species of Aspergillus from samples of air. Similar devices are in development in other labs around the world for water samples (review) and other types of samples but this is the first indication that has come to our attention that this technology is to be used for air samples.

The technology (DNA chip technology.) is important because it can detect DNA when it is present in even very tiny amounts. This is particularly useful for working with very dilute samples such as large volumes of drinking water or air as it makes it possible to make accurate detections very quickly - the more established methods (e.g. culturing concentrated samples) would take weeks to achieve the same aim.

Very similar technology has been in use for some years in scientific laboratories to assist in complex fields of research such as cancer. Click here to view a movie of the fundamentals behind the many applications of this technology.

It can also detect specific sequences of DNA which is very useful when combined with DNA sequences that are only found in a single species as it then effectively becomes a tool for identifying specific species - in our case including Aspergillus versicolor & Aspergillus flavus.

Put both of these features on a tiny 'chip' on a single glass slide and you have a highly portable device which has the potential to carry out detailed analysis 'on site' in short periods of time. These chips are now very cheap to manufacture and are reusable - it isn't difficult to see them being in routine use in the fairly near future.

1 comment:

Schimmelpilzexperte said...

The DNA-chip might be usefull in future to detect spores in the air, but now it has two really big disadvantages:

the amount of spores can not yet quantified, but it is in most cases necessary to estimate the spore concentration, because most mould species like Aspergillus can occur in a low background concentration without any concern, but high concentration cannot be tolerated.

20 species can now identified with that method, but about 200 mould species occur in buildings, even more bacteria species. Only if most species can be detect, it will become an invaluable method.



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