Field-Deployable Droplet Digital PCR System for the Rapid Detection of Waterborne Bacterial Pathogens

Fort Lewis College, Durango, CO

Fort Lewis College, Durango, CO team photo
The EPA P3 team at Fort Lewis College aims to develop a field deployable droplet digital PCR machine to rapidly detect waterborne bacterial pathogens. Conventional waterborne bacteria monitoring is carried out by traditional culturing methods which suffer from long turnaround time, inaccurate bacteria count, and unclear genotype characterizations. The main goals of this proposed project are: 1) Develop a Field-Deployable Droplet Digital Polymerase Chain Reaction (ddPCR) system that can rapidly detect pathogenic Escherichia coli (E. coli) in the field. 2) Use this proposed system to test the water samples of Animas River in Colorado. 3) Educate communities (including the Native American tribes) in the four-corner area on the importance of water resource protection and the technologies for environmental protection.

The team is led by 3 undergraduate students at Fort Lewis College

EPA P3 Video Presentation

Poster (click to open a full size image): 
A Field-Deployable Droplet Digital PCR System for the Rapid Detection of Waterborne Bacterial Pathogens poster

The bacteria detector consists of three functional blocks, the sample preparation block, the thermal cycler, and the optical detector. The team has developed a protocol to recover the bacteria from environmental water samples, a thermal cycler to run single-cell PCR reaction in droplets, and an optical setup to detect the number of bacteria in the original sample.