Triplex qPCR assay for Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli monitoring in wastewater

Publication Name

Science of the Total Environment


Campylobacter spp. is one of the most frequent pathogens of bacterial gastroenteritis recorded worldwide. Campylobacter jejuni (C. jejuni) and Campylobacter coli (C. coli) are the two major disease-associated species, accounting for >95 % of infections, and thus have been selected for disease surveillance. Monitoring temporal variations in pathogen concentration and diversity excreted from community wastewater allows the early detection of outbreaks. Multiplex real-time/quantitative PCR (qPCR) enables multi-target quantification of pathogens in various types of samples including wastewater. Also, an internal amplification control (IAC) is required for each sample when adopting PCR-based methods for pathogen detection and quantification in wastewater to exclude the inhibition of the wastewater matrix. To achieve reliable quantification of C. jejuni and C. coli towards wastewater samples, this study developed and optimized a triplex qPCR assay by combining three qPCR primer-probe sets targeting Campylobacter jejuni subsp. jejuni, Campylobacter coli, and Campylobacter sputorum biovar sputorum (C. sputorum), respectively. This triplex qPCR assay not only can directly and simultaneously detect the concentration of C. jejuni and C. coli in wastewater but also can achieve the PCR inhibition control using C. sputorum primer-probe set. This is the first developed triplex qPCR assay with IAC for C. jejuni and C. coli, to be used in the wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) applications. The optimized triplex qPCR assay enables the detection limit of the assay (ALOD100%) and wastewater (PLOD80%) as 10 gene copy/μL and 2 log10 cells/mL (2 gene copies/μL of extracted DNA), respectively. The application of this triplex qPCR to 52 real raw wastewater samples from 13 wastewater treatment plants demonstrated its potential as a high-throughput and economically viable tool for the long-term monitoring of C. jejuni and C. coli prevalence in communities and the surrounding environments. This study provided an accessible methodology and a solid foundation for WBE-based monitoring of Campylobacter spp. relevant diseases and paved the road for future WBE back-estimation of C. jejuni and C. coli prevalence.

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Funding Sponsor

Australian Research Council



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