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Technology to test the water quality

Nate Barott '20, one of five undergraduates on associate professor Ruth Richardson's research team, collects a water sample in June at Buttermilk Falls State Park in Ithaca. The sample was tested using the Biomeme two3 smartphone-enabled PCR thermocycler device.
Nate Barott '20, one of five undergraduates on associate professor Ruth Richardson's research team, collects a water sample in June at Buttermilk Falls State Park in Ithaca. The sample was tested using the Biomeme two3 smartphone-enabled PCR thermocycler device.

Developed by Cornell Scientists, a new water testing device could indicate the presence of any of a number of pathogens. The Biomeme’s two3 device – a quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) thermocycler – detects and amplifies DNA.

Water is filtered and prepped in three tubes, then runs through the device. Information is sent via an iPhone – included with the device, which runs nearly $4,000 – to a cloud portal, and can also be monitored in real time. Test results are available in less than an hour.

Lindsay France/University Photography Ruth Richardson, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, holds water samples to be inserted into the Biomeme device.
Lindsay France/University Photography
Ruth Richardson, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, holds water samples to be inserted into the Biomeme device.

The device checks for fecal indicator bacteria, which aren’t themselves pathogens but could indicate the presence of any of a number of pathogens.

James Brophy, Buttermilk Falls park manager said, “We were really excited to hear about the scope of work and what it could mean. The implications for parks would be pretty great.”

Lindsay France/University Photography Nate Barott '20 checks data collected from the Biomeme PCR thermocycler, which can determine the level of fecal indicator bacteria in a water sample in 60 to 90 minutes.
Lindsay France/University Photography
Nate Barott ’20 checks data collected from the Biomeme PCR thermocycler, which can determine the level of fecal indicator bacteria in a water sample in 60 to 90 minutes.

Ruth Richardson, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering said, “We go and sample the water and process it right there in the park. And 45 minutes later, the machine will give you an answer. Start to finish, it’s approximately an hour to your answer, so you could have relevant information before you open the beach.”

A big goal for this summertime project is a validation of her quick-test system.

Written by Pranjal Mehar

Pranjal Mehar is an active and happy member of TechExplorist. With no experience, she started writing since last 2 months. Being Tech Enthusiast, she is willing to explore beyond her knowledge.

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