DNA technology has initiated a new era in environmental microbiology. Nucleic acid based methods provide specific, sensitive detection of microorganisms from a variety of environments.
Quantitative PCR (qPCR) is possible through the combined use of specialized PCR reagents (e.g., TaqMan) and refined instrumentation. This advance is particularly useful in environmental microbiology because the population size - the amount of a particular organism - can be determined, and thus population changes can be tracked over time or in response to a change in the environment. The authors of this article have been applying these methods to Mycobacterium detection, identification and population size determinations in metalworking fluids.
The undisputed success of detection assays based on the polymerase chain reaction has been largely due to PCR's speed in comparison with many conventional diagnostic methods, such as cultures.
PCR has the ability to amplify specific DNA sequences in an exponential fashion by in vitro DNA synthesis. The PCR technique can be used to detect, identify and differentiate microbial agents present in either clinical or environmental samples.
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