dPCR enables quantitative detection of environmental DNA and RNA

Environmental surveillance and wastewater-based epidemiology are used to monitor public health threats by testing for specific environmental DNA (eDNA) and RNA (eRNA). Because such targets are often found at low concentration, detection requries sensitive analytical tools. The QuantStudio Absolute Q Digital PCR System enables absolute quantification of low-level targets while helping overcome common challenges with environmental samples:

High tolerance to PCR inhibitors
—reaction partitioning improves resistance to PCR inhibitors that can accumulate during concentration of dilute environmental samples

Minimal sample waste
—with our microfluidic array plate dPCR technology, less than 5% of input becomes dead volume, helping ensure low-level target data is captured, not lost
Fast results
—a simple workflow, minimal hands-on time, and fast time to answer enables rapid responses to questions of public health

SARS-CoV-2 wastewater surveillance and tracking using digital PCR

Because individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2 shed detectable viral RNA, wastewater surveillance is an effective tool to identify and track SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks. Tracking SARS-CoV-2 in community wastewater enables early detection to help track spread, capture emerging mutations, and rapidly inform public health policies

Learn how other researchers have used the QuantStudio Absolute Q Digital PCR System in their SARs-COV-2 wastewater surveillance efforts:

Webinar: Applications of multiplex digital PCR: Monitoring wastewater for SARS-CoV-2 and measuring bacterial gene expression

Dr. Joan L. Slonczewski of Kenyon College describes using the QuantStudio Absolute Q dPCR System and SARS-CoV-2 Wastewater Surveillance kit to monitor and measure SARS-CoV-2 RNA in community wastewater.

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Podcast: Tales of a pandemic PhD (Episode 1)

Dr. Sarah Philo of the University of Notre Dame Wastewater Surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 and Emerging Public Health Threats Research Coordination Network talks about using both qPCR and dPCR to detect and quantify SARS-CoV-2 and antimicrobial resistance genes in wastewater..

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Other applications of dPCR in environmental surveillance and testing

With proven utility for SARS-CoV-2 wastewater surveillance, researchers are expanding the applications of digital PCR in environmental and wastewater testing.

Geomicrobiologist Dr. Brandi Kiel Reese studies microbes in extreme environments, including those buried within the sediment under the sea floor. In this video, see how digital PCR enables Dr. Reese to accurately and precisely study rare samples with low biomass, detecting genes down to a single copy, and learn how other researchers have used the QuantStudio Absolute Q Digital PCR System for environmental surveillance.

Webinar: Beyond SARS-CoV-2, application of Absolute Q digital PCR system for waterborne pathogens

Dr. Huiyun Wu of the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine talks about using digital PCR to detect waterborne pathogens from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Contaminant Candidate List (CCL4) in environmental samples.

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Podcast: Avoiding the itch with digital PCR (Episode 3)

Dr. Patrick Hanington of the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta discusses how dPCR is advancing his team’s work in monitoring public and recreational waters for parasites, including schistosomes, which cause swimmer’s itch.

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Digital PCR assays and kits for wastewater and environmental surveillance

Absolute Q SARS-CoV-2 Wastewater Surveillance Kit

The Applied Biosystems Absolute Q SARS-CoV-2 Wastewater Surveillance Kit contains a triplex dPCR assay designed for simultaneous high-resolution detection and quantification of the SARS-CoV-2 N1 and N2 gene regions alongside pepper mild mottle virus, a common human fecal normalization target.

  • Simple workflow—includes pre-mixed assays and Absolute Q 1-step RT-dPCR Master Mix for easy setup
  • Fast results—absolute quantification of targets in less than two hours, including reaction preparation and data collection
  • Multiplexing flexibility—the triplex assay leaves a fourth red dye channel free to enable multiplexing with a custom assay
  • Dependability—analyze your data with confidence using verified assays backed by a performance guarantee*
Bar graph depicting concentration of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in wastewater
Figure 1. Concentration of SARS-CoV-2 N1 and N2 targets before and after normalization to the median concentration of PMMoV. Data obtained using the Absolute Q SARS-CoV-2 Wastewater Surveillance Kit, run on the QuantStudio Absolute Q Digital PCR System.

Ordering information

Other digital PCR assays for environmental and wastewater surveillance


Custom dPCR assays

Can’t find the assay you’re looking for? Design a digital PCR assay with a self service tool or get help with our design services

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TaqMan Assays

Adapt an existing TaqMan Assay for use on the QuantStudio Absolute Q Digital PCR System.

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Quick Reference Guide


Photo of the QuantStudio Absolute Q Digital PCR System over a graphical background

QuantStudio Absolute Q Digital PCR System

Explore our powerfully simple dPCR platform powered by microfluidic array plate (MAP) technology.

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Master mixes, microfluidic array plates, and other consumables for the QuantStudio Absolute Q Digital PCR system

Digital PCR reagents & consumables

Find master mixes and microfludic array plates and accessories for use with the QuantStudio Absolute Q dPCR System.

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Scientist in lab preparing dPCR automated run

Talk to a specialist

Have questions about implementing dPCR in your lab? Let us help you get started.

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 *Terms and conditions apply. For complete details of the guarantee, go to thermofisher.com/absoluteqassayguarantee

For Research Use Only. Not for use in diagnostic procedures.

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