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Miniature PCR based portable bioaerosol monitor development

Agranovski, I.E., Usachev, E.V., Agranovski, E., Usacheva, O.V.
Journal of applied microbiology 2017 v.122 no.1 pp. 129-138
air, air quality, airborne pathogens, bioaerosols, exposure assessment, genome, microorganisms, monitoring, occupational exposure, particle size, quality control, quantitative polymerase chain reaction
AIMS: A portable bioaerosol monitor is greatly demanded technology in many areas including air quality control, occupational exposure assessment and health risk evaluation, environmental studies and, especially, in defence and bio‐terrorism applications. Our recent groundwork allowed us to formulate the concept of a portable bioaerosol monitor, which needs to be light, user friendly, reliable and capable of detecting airborne pathogens within 1–1·5 h on the spot. METHODS AND RESULTS: Conceptually, the event of a bioaerosol concentration burst is determined by triggers to commence the representative air sampling with sequential real‐time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) confirmation of the targeted micro‐organism present in the air. To minimize reagent consumption and idle running of the technology, an event of a bioaerosol burst is confirmed by three parameters: aerosol particle size, concentration and composition. Only particle sizes above 200 nm attract interest in the bioaerosol. Only an elevated aerosol concentration above the threshold (background aerosol concentration) is a signal to commence the analytical procedure. The combination of our previously developed personal bioaerosol sampler, aerosol particle counter based trigger and portable real‐time PCR device formed the basis of the bioaerosol monitoring technology. The portable real‐time PCR device was advanced to provide internally controlled detection, significantly reducing false‐positive alarms. CONCLUSIONS: The technique is capable of detecting selected airborne micro‐organisms on the spot within 30–80 min, depending on the genome organization of the particular strain. SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY: Due to recent outbreaks of infectious airborne diseases and the continuing threat of intentionally released bioaerosol attacks, investigations into the possibility of the early and reliable detection of pathogenic micro‐organisms in the air is becoming increasingly important. The proposed technology consisting of a bioaerosol sampler, technology trigger and PCR device is capable of detecting selected airborne micro‐organisms on the spot within a short time period.