Research Topic

Development and Application of Molecular Technologies for Monitoring Microbial Contaminants in Water

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About this Research Topic

Microbial contaminants, or contaminants of microbial origin, in waters have been a global public health concern. With climate change, population growth, and increasing pressure of economic development, particularly in developing countries, microbial contamination-related issues greatly impact the quality and ...

Microbial contaminants, or contaminants of microbial origin, in waters have been a global public health concern. With climate change, population growth, and increasing pressure of economic development, particularly in developing countries, microbial contamination-related issues greatly impact the quality and therefore the beneficial usage of our water resources for drinking, aquaculture, and recreation proposes.

Microbial contaminants in waters can be of viral, bacterial, and protozoan origin. Harmful algal blooms are happening with increasing frequency, seemingly fuelled by rising temperature and nutrient loads. This phenomenon is one of the main causes for the spread of microbial-derived toxins. Antibiotic-resistance genes, and its fate and transport through wastewater treatment plants and environmental waters, are also attracting attention due to the potential spread of the derived antibiotic resistance and their associated public health risks. Detecting, tracking, and predicting the presence and magnitude of these microbial contaminants in the water is thus critical.

Traditional monitoring of microbial contaminants relies on microbial culture which is typically biased with many limitations. For example, common plating methods for measuring faecal indicator bacteria can take days to be completed, preventing timely public notification of compromised water quality. Important human pathogens such as Norovirus, do not have a cell culture-based method for viability detection, despite decades of research effort. The diversity of harmful algal species and antibiotic resistance makes it also incredibly costly and laborious to conduct a comprehensive assessment using growth-based methods.

To date, advancements in the molecular techniques and novel engineering approaches represent an effective kit-type tool to make monitoring of microbial contaminants faster, more specific, comprehensive, and higher throughput. However, while certain methodologies such as bench-top quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (qPCR), next-generation sequencing, and transcriptome technologies are already established in terms of development and implementation, other technologies such as Fluidigm's BioMark HD System are just starting to demonstrate their increasing potential in microbial water quality monitoring. Therefore, much research remains to translate the high throughput approaches using molecular technologies from proof-of-concept, and development, to practical implementation in microbial contaminants monitoring.

This Research Topic aims to publish state-of-the-art research on recent development and application of molecular technologies used for monitoring microbial contaminants in environmental waters. Specific focus will be implementation within the global microbial water-quality monitoring. We specifically welcome manuscripts discussing:
• Use of next-generation sequencing in the characterization of microbial communities in various water matrices and potential application towards more accurate microbial water quality monitoring.
• Development of targeted low to high throughput real time quantitative PCR technologies including but not limited to digital qPCR, microfluidic qPCR and other qPCR-based multi-plexing arrays on assessing microbial water quality.
• Application and implications of molecular-based monitoring efforts on developing quantitative microbial risk assessment models that minimize human exposure to various waterborne pathogens.

We welcome both original Research and Review papers addressing those topic areas. Contributions from researchers in both industry and academic institutes, and from both developing and developed countries are encouraged to provide a more balanced and comprehensive perspective. Please note that monitoring studies must have a tangible outcome and/or applications. Genome Announcement, Data Report, Case Report, and purely descriptive studies will not be considered.


Keywords: MST, waterborne pathogen, molecular, pathogen-host interaction, toxic cyanobacteria


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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