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Sewer slime can stay on SARS-CoV-2 RNA from wastewater

In the first study of this type, researchers observed that sewer mucus could trap and accumulate SARS-CoV-2 RNA. Credits: Vladimir Mulder / Shutterstock.com

Monitoring the level of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in the wastewater flowing into the treatment plant during the COVID-19 pandemic was one way for researchers to measure the spread of the disease. But can the slimy microbial communities that line most sewers affect the viral RNA they encounter? In the first study, researchers reported in ACS ES & T Water that sewage slime could accumulate SARS-CoV-2 RNA and later degrade or shed it, affecting the accuracy of wastewater epidemiological studies. increase.


When water and sludge from people’s homes collect in the sewers, some of the solids settle and a sticky microbial biofilm accumulates in the pipes.Previous researchers have shown that RNA viruses such as poliovirus, enterovirus, and norovirus can be trapped and collected. Slime..But whether sticky substances can accumulate SARS-CoV-2 virus particles or RNA Wastewater I’m not sure. Nicole Fahrenfeld et al. Previously detected viral RNA in sewer deposits in college dormitories, where the number of COVID-19 cases was low, but the amount was too low to accurately assess. Therefore, the team wanted to see if biofilms could uptake SARS-CoV-2 RNA from untreated wastewater when the incidence of COVID-19 was low and high.

To grow the simulated sewer slime, researchers continuously pumped raw wastewater into a cylindrical tank with a removable portion of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) inside. They performed two 28-day experiments and removed the PVC plate every few days to assess the composition of the biofilm. The team then used a method called reverse transcriptase quantitative polymerase chain reaction to present untreated wastewater and SARS-CoV-2 RNA and peppermottle virus (a measure of human feces) RNA in biofilms. I measured the amount.

In August and September 2020, SARS-CoV-2 RNA levels were too low to accurately measure both the simulated sewer slime and the wastewater in which it grew. Researchers say these results are consistent with the low incidence of COVID-19 infection at the time. Then, from November to December 2020, the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in the wastewater itself was still low, but RNA levels in slime increased.The amount of Pepper Mottlevirus RNA leveled off within the first week of growth, with an increase in SARS-CoV-2 RNA. Biofilm It was not due to an increase in stool volume. Rather, this change reflects the high number of COVID-19 cases diagnosed in late fall. Researchers say it’s too early to know exactly how these biofilms affect wastewater epidemiological studies, as other factors need to be evaluated first. For example, RNA can be degraded or released into wastewater when the biofilm is degraded.


Harmful microorganisms found on the sewer pipe wall


For more information:
William R. Morales Medina et al, SARS-CoV-2 RNA accumulation in sewer biofilms, ACS ES & T Water (2022). DOI: 10.1021 / acsestwater.1c00345

Quote: Sewer slime from https: //phys.org/news/2022-02-sewer-slime-sars-cov-rna-from wastewater acquired on February 9, 2022 (February 9, 2022) May stay in SARS-CoV-2RNA Wastewater.html

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Sewer slime can stay on SARS-CoV-2 RNA from wastewater

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