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Comparative assessment of filtration- and precipitation-based methods for the concentration of SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses from wastewater

Farkas, K., Pellett, C., Alex-Sanders, N., Bridgman, M.T.P., Corbishley, A., Grimsley, J.M.S., Kasprzyk-Hordern, B., Kevill, J.L., Pântea, I., Richardson-O’Neill, I.S., Lambert-Slosarska, K., Woodhall, N., Jones, D.L. and Faucher, S.P. (2022) Comparative assessment of filtration- and precipitation-based methods for the concentration of SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses from wastewater. Microbiology Spectrum, 10 (4).

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Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) has been widely used to track levels of SARS-CoV-2 infection in the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the rapid expansion of WBE, many methods have been used and developed for virus concentration and detection in wastewater. However, very little information is available on the relative performance of these approaches. In this study, we compared the performance of five commonly used wastewater concentration methods for the detection and quantification of pathogenic viruses (SARS-CoV-2, norovirus, rotavirus, influenza, and measles viruses), fecal indicator viruses (crAssphage, adenovirus, pepper mild mottle virus), and process control viruses (murine norovirus and bacteriophage Phi6) in laboratory spiking experiments. The methods evaluated included those based on either ultrafiltration (Amicon centrifugation units and InnovaPrep device) or precipitation (using polyethylene glycol [PEG], beef extract-enhanced PEG, and ammonium sulfate). The two best methods were further tested on 115 unspiked wastewater samples. We found that the volume and composition of the wastewater and the characteristics of the target viruses greatly affected virus recovery, regardless of the method used for concentration. All tested methods are suitable for routine virus concentration; however, the Amicon ultrafiltration method and the beef extract-enhanced PEG precipitation methods yielded the best recoveries. We recommend the use of ultrafiltration-based concentration for low sample volumes with high virus titers and ammonium levels and the use of precipitation-based concentration for rare pathogen detection in high-volume samples.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Food Futures Institute
Publisher: American Society for Microbiology
Copyright: © 2022 Farkas et al.
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