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Microbiology Australia Microbiology Australia
Issue 4

Diagnostics into the Future

Vertical Transmission

Welcome to the last edition of Microbiology Australia for 2013. We hope you have been enjoying the tactile experience of the revitalised print edition. Rest assured we are working on the issue of timely delivery! We also hope that you are taking advantage of the new, user-friendly online format for the journal. If you have any suggestions for improvements to either the print or online versions, topics for future editions or any other feedback please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our office (

Diagnostics into the future

This edition of Microbiology Australia is dedicated to the issue of emerging technology in diagnostics and its suitability to the response to emerging animal and human disease. It is fittingly entitled ‘Diagnostics into the future'. There is valid argument that the current pattern of infectious diseases is not historically unprecedented1 and has major driving forces of human population translocation, transhumance, exposure of naïve populations, increasing contact with wildlife ...

Nanoparticle sample preparation and mass spectrometry for rapid diagnosis of microbial infections

In vitro diagnostics encompasses a wide range of medical devices and assays, which aim to provide reliable and accurate diagnosis of disease. This can be achieved by detecting a target, for example, a protein biomarker or a pathogen bacterium, and/or host factors such as cytokines induced in an inflammatory response. Detection involves an assay to capture target molecules and distinguish them from other substances in an ex vivo sample matrix. Selective capturing can be achieved using affinity probes, such as antibodies or small mo...

High-throughput molecular typing of microbes using the Sequenom Massarray platform

The advent of newer technologies, including next-generation sequencing (NGS) and matrix assisted laser desorption/ionisation time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS), have continued to drive a considerable renaissance in microbial molecular typing methods. The Sequenom Massarray iPLEX single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) typing platform (Figure 1) combines MALDI-TOF MS with single-base extension PCR for high-throughput multiplex SNP characterisation1. W...

Digital PCR: a new DNA quantification tool

Digital polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is a quantitative PCR technique with potential to be more accurate and precise than real-time quantitative PCR without the need for a standard curve. The digital PCR sample/reaction mix is randomly distributed into a large number of partitions, such that some partitions contain no copies of the nucleic acid template and others contain at least one copy. Following thermal cycling, partitions containing amplified product can be distinguished by the increased fluorescence generated from the probe. Quantifica...

Massively parallel sequencing for the microbiologist

Molecular biology techniques have revolutionised the diagnostic microbiology laboratory. In particular, the past decade has seen standardised nucleic acid sequencing methods applied to routine identification and typing of microorganisms. The full extension of this approach will see massively parallel sequencing (MPS; also referred to as next generation or high throughput sequencing) of samples, bringing with it new capabilities (e.g. complete community profiling in complex samples) and challenges. MPS is a different diagnostic paradigm requirin...

Trends in instrumentation in diagnostic molecular microbiology

In recent years, replacement of conventional microbiological culture-based diagnostic testing with molecular detection of bacterial, fungal and viral pathogens has become routine across many laboratories. This increase in adopting molecular methods has been primarily due to the availability of automated instrumentation that can provide results in a timely and efficient manner, without the need for in-depth knowledge of molecular biology. The use of molecular methods is therefore translating into better treatment, care and management of patients...

Arrays in clinical microbiology

Application of molecular techniques in the diagnostic microbiology laboratory for the detection of pathogens continues to develop and expand. Simultaneous detection of large numbers of microbial targets or resistance genes with minimal hands-on time is a prominent objective of many new molecular systems. In addition to established real-time PCR detection, microarray technology or the newly developed FilmArray system (an automated nested PCR with melt curve analysis), are promising tools to aid infectious disease diagnosis.

Q fever: pets, vets and validating tests

Q fever is a highly significant worldwide zoonosis caused by the bacterium Coxiella burnetii. The bacterium’s extreme environmental resilience and large, seemingly asymptomatic animal and arthropod reservoir, provides an easy means to travel to new hosts. Vigilance in promptly recognising clinical cases in humans and reappraisal of the potential risks from animal exposure is required. This article outlines the current evidence on the potential role of cats and dogs in transmission and provides a framework for future studies.

Bairnsdale ulcer in humans and animals

Buruli/Bairnsdale ulcer (BU) is a destructive skin disease caused by Mycobacterium ulcerans. Human BU occurs in over 30 countries including Australia. Victoria is the only region worldwide to report BU in animals. Disease occurs mainly in koalas and possums, though domestic animals may also be affected. Severely affected animals may develop systemic disease with M. ulcerans DNA in their gut contents and faeces. Native wildlife may have a role in the ecology and transmission of M. ulcerans, at least in Victoria.

Next generation sequencing in single cell parasite disease investigations

Single cell parasites, also referred as protozoa, are ubiquitous. They are parasites of animals and humans, causing significant disease such as malaria and toxoplasmosis. In farm animal medicine and human medicine, specific diagnostic tests have been developed to detect many of these diseases. Unfortunately, the role of protozoal agents in wildlife disease is poorly understood and diagnosis is confounded by the lack of basic knowledge of parasite distribution and morphological identification. Therefore we are pursuing a new approach using 'stat...

Biological recovery of phosphorus from municipal wastewater

Today's agriculture is largely dependent on phosphorus (P) fertilisers mined from rock. Phosphate rock is a non-renewable resource and reserves that do exist, are under the control of a handful of countries, including China, US and Morocco. Given the fact that agriculture is based on non-renewable P, its consumption would ultimately lead to a depletion of P resources. Hence, P recovery and recycling are of considerable importance to sustain a profitable agricultural industry and to ensure the long-term, equitable use and management of P resourc...

Volume 34 Number 4

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