- Enabling technologies
Genomics is increasingly being used in the water sector to monitor water quality for its safety and health and to determine its biodiversity. KWR researches the applicability of DNA techniques for fast, sensitive and comprehensive analyses of the microbial water quality. We also develop and implement new DNA methods. Through the correct application of genomics, KWR helps the water sector raise the efficiency of its water-quality management and lower its costs.
The water sector is using molecular microbiology methods – namely hydrogenomics – with increasing frequency. Hydrogenomics makes it possible to very selectively determine the presence, identity and concentration of (micro) organisms. By employing DNA techniques, one can ascertain the unique composition of genetic material (DNA or RNA). Compared to traditional methods, DNA techniques are faster and more sensitive in their analysis of possible pathogens and resistance genes. This applies to drinking water, cooling tower water, wastewater, industry water, bathing water as well as surface water. One can therefore deal decisively with the causes of the presence of undesirable microorganisms. With Next Generation Sequencing, one can even discover the composition of microbial populations and microbial processes in different water systems. DNA techniques can also be applied to determine the water’s biodiversity regarding fish, amphibians and macro fauna.
DNA knowledge for water sector and agriculture
KWR is fully abreast of DNA knowledge relevant to the water sector and agriculture. We know which (micro) organisms are important at any given moment, what threats they might pose to health and the environment, and how contaminants can be removed during water treatment. Our specialists apply genomic methods and bioinformatics in a wide variety of ways.
- Fast and quantitative detection
Application of Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (qPCR) for the fast and selective conduct of routine laboratory analyses and the detection of a large number of pathogenic microorganisms.
- Description of bacterial and fungal population
Application of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) for insight into the composition and biochemical properties of bacterial and fungal populations; for example, to optimise treatment processes or describe bacterial populations in greenhouse water.
- Tracing new microorganisms and their properties
Detection of viruses, bacteria, fungi and protozoa for which ‘traditional’ (culture) methods do not suffice. Detection of antimicrobial-resistant genes and genes associated with the degradation of micropollutants.
- Risk assessment of bathing water
Timely signalling of increased levels of blue-green algae and of bathing water parameters (E. coli, intestinal enterococci), including the tracing of contamination sources and risk analysis for humans and animals. Recognition and quantification of toxins produced by blue-green algae, and recommendations on preventing nuisance.
- Environmental DNA (eDNA)
Analysis of DNA from traces of macro fauna and fish in water (skin cells, mucus, faeces) to determine biodiversity.
Efficient and cost-saving water management
Because of its multiple potentials, hydrogenomics is widely applicable: the identifications range from specific pathogens to all of the organisms present in the water ecosystem. Through the correct application of genomics, KWR helps the water sector raise the efficiency of its water-quality management and lower its costs. We accomplish this through research into existing and new methods and applications. A key challenge in the years ahead is to embed proven DNA methods in the legal and regulatory framework.