Low Level Pathogen Detection Using Digital PCR
Precise pathogen detection in the presence of inhibitors
Detection of low-level pathogens is important in situations where bacterial or viral pathogens cause human illnesses, often through contaminated food or water supplies. In this context, it is important to detect pathogens in the food chain at the earliest opportunity to reduce their impact. While real-time PCR (qPCR) can be a useful tool for pathogen detection in general, it is sensitive to PCR inhibitors present in the crude samples common to food and water testing.
By contrast, digital PCR is less sensitive to inhibitors and offers a more robust testing platform. It works by partitioning each sample into thousands of independent, parallel PCR reactions. Digital PCR is not as easily affected by inhibitors than real-time PCR, because it is an endpoint reaction, and as such it is possible to more accurately and precisely measure pathogen concentration in what would be an otherwise highly inhibited sample. In addition, digital PCR provides an absolute count of pathogenic sequences, eliminating the need for reference material or a standard curve.