Microbial Surrogates

Microbial Surrogates

ESR scientists using C. parvum as a model microbe have designed a protein-coated florescent microspheres that has similar size and surface electrostatic charge to that of C. parvum oocysts. As the size and surface charge of a microorganism determine its sorption and filtration in porous media, by mimicking oocysts� size, electrostatic charge and density, the surrogate mimics oocysts attenuation in porous media. In preliminary studies this surrogate showed similar degree of sorption and filtration to those of C parvum oocysts. Compared to the unmodified beads, the ESR surrogate behaved much more like the oocysts. The concept can be used to develop other surrogates for some specific viruses of concern for assessing their treatment efficiencies of drinking plants and wastewater plants..

Unique Selling Propositions
  • It provides a new tool to assess the removal efficiency of potentially harmful microbes by filtration within an operating water treatment plant without the hassle of dealing with the actual organism. The surrogate can be rapidly analysed in real-time using user friendly automatic counting equipments (e.g. a spectrofluorimeter or a particle counter). The results can be delivered within a few minutes per sample in a one-step process. It allows the end user to test the ability of operationally-active treatment plants to remove dangerous microbes due to the risk of infection if the treatment were not function well. The surrogate is inexpensive to make and has a shelf-life in a refrigerator of up to 2 years.
  • Main users would be drinking-water treatment operators, nationally and internationally, in addition Drinking Water Assessors, who monitor the compliance of drinking-water operations could use the surrogate to periodically audit that the treatment plant is operating as expected. Similarly wastewater treatment operators could use the technology to assess the effectiveness of their operations to remove certain microbes before discharge of treated wastewater into the environment.
IP Strategy


Project Status

Proof of Principle - Laboratory demonstration of principle only