Hatt JK, Ritalahti KM, Ogles DM, Lebron CA, Loeffler FE
Dehalococcoides mccartyi (Dhc) strains are keystone bacteria for reductive dechlorination of chlorinated ethenes to nontoxic ethene in contaminated aquifers. Enumeration of Dhc biomarker genes using quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) in groundwater is a key component of site assessment and bioremediation monitoring. Unfortunately, standardized qPCR procedures that recognize impaired measurements due to PCR inhibition, low template DNA concentrations, or analytical error are not available, thus limiting confidence in qPCR data. To improve contemporary approaches for enumerating Dhc in environmental samples, multiplex qPCR assays were designed to quantify the Dhc 16S rRNA gene and one of two different internal amplification controls (IACs): a modified Dhc 16S rRNA gene fragment (Dhc*) and the firefly luciferase gene luc. The Dhc* IAC exhibited competitive inhibition in qPCR with the Dhc 16S rRNA gene template when the ratio of either target was 100-fold greater than the other target. A multiplex qPCR assay with the luc IAC avoided competitive inhibition and accurately quantified Dhc abundances ranging from ∼10 to 107 16S rRNA gene copies per reaction. The addition of ∼106E. coliluc IAC to simulated groundwater amended with the Dhc-containing consortium KB-1 yielded reproducible luc counts after DNA extraction and multiplex qPCR enumeration. The application of the luc IAC assay improved Dhc biomarker gene quantification from simulated groundwater samples and is a valuable approach for “ground truthing” qPCR data obtained in different laboratories, thus reducing ambiguity associated with qPCR enumeration and reproducibility.
Hatt JK, Ritalahti KM, Ogles DM, Lebron CA, Loeffler FE. 2013. Design and application of an internal amplification control to improve Dehalococcoides mccartyi 16S rRNA gene enumeration by qPCR. Environmental Science & Technology 47:11131-11138.