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Utility of a field deployable qPCR instrument for analyzing freshwater quality

Abstract

A significant limitation of quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) technology for environmental research has been the lack of portability of the amplification and detection equipment needed to perform qPCR assays in the field. The ability to perform qPCR assays in the field would significantly improve the utility of the technology, enabling quicker risk management decisions in acute environmental emergencies, and speeding the pace of environmental research. We tested a portable qPCR instrument, Liberty16, to evaluate if this instrument would be useful for qPCR analysis in our fieldwork. Parallel testing of the Liberty16 with our existing LightCycler 480 Instrument II revealed similar repeatability and sensitivity for the detection of targets in known and blind freshwater samples by qPCR. Both instruments were able to detect all target sequences at 20 copies per reaction and up to 66% targets in a 10-fold dilution. In seven of eight blind freshwater samples, results from both instruments were consistent for detected or nondetected target. In the other sample, the target was only detected by the Liberty16. Portable instruments of this type may open up new avenues for researchers to perform qPCR analyses in the field.

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