Validation of Bacteroidales quantitative PCR assays targeting human and animal fecal contamination in the public and domestic domains in India

Mitsunori Odagiri, Alexander Schriewer, Kaitlyn Hanley, Stefan Wuertz, Pravas R. Misra, Pinaki Panigrahi, Marion W. Jenkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


We compared host-associated Bacteroidales qPCR assays developed in the continental United States and Europe for the purpose of measuring the effect of improved sanitation on human fecal exposure in rural Indian communities where both human and animal fecal loading are high. Ten candidate Bacteroidales qPCR assays were tested against fecal samples (human, sewage, cow, buffalo, goat, sheep, dog and chicken) from a test set of 30 individual human, 5 sewage, and 60 pooled animal samples collected in coastal Odisha, India. The two universal/general Bacteroidales assays tested (BacUni, GenBac3) performed equally well, achieving 100% sensitivity on the test set. Across the five human-associated assays tested (HF183 Taqman, BacHum, HumM2, BacH, HF183 SYBR), we found low sensitivity (17 to 49%) except for HF183 SYBR (89%), and moderate to high cross-reactivity with dog (20 to 80%) and chicken fecal samples (60 to 100%). BacHum had the highest accuracy (67%), amplified all sewage samples within the range of quantification (ROQ), and did not cross-react with any fecal samples from cows, the most populous livestock animal in India. Of the ruminant- and cattle-associated assays tested (BacCow, CowM2), BacCow was more sensitive in detecting the full range of common Indian livestock animal fecal sources, while CowM2 only detected cow sources with 50% sensitivity. Neither assay cross-reacted with human sources. BacCan, the dog-associated assay tested, showed no cross-reactivity with human sources, and high sensitivity (90%) for dog fecal samples. Overall, our results indicate BacUni, BacHum, HumM2, BacCan and BacCow would be the most suitable MST assays to distinguish and quantify relative amounts of human-associated and livestock/domestic animal-associated contributions to fecal contamination in Odisha, India.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)462-470
Number of pages9
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Bacteroidales
  • Fecal pollution
  • India
  • Microbial source tracking
  • Quantitative PCR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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