Researchers at Technische Universitat Wien, Vienna have developed a simple method for detecting cause of water contamination from ruminants directly at source, using a DNA based rapid test.
Certain bacteria are only found in the faeces of very specific species of animal. When analyzing DNA samples of these bacteria, one could pinpoint exactly which creature is the source of the contamination. There are, for example, bacteria which are commonly found in the intestinal microbiome of ruminants. If this type of DNA is found in a water sample, it is highly likely that the contamination originated from grazing cattle.
The bacteria are destroyed; the DNA is amplified in a targeted manner and then detected using a simple strip, much like a pregnancy test. This technology is applicable to many different bacteria and viruses, but for now it is used for detection of dangerous microbes in waters, this being a particularly widespread problem.