DNA Microchip Based Microbial Monitoring of Environmental Systems 2002-01-2452
Robust systems for monitoring the microbiology of closed systems such as spacecraft and space stations will be crucial to maintaining the health of crew members, and thus the success of long duration missions. Microbiological monitoring can not rely on established methods based on culture, since culture-based methods are not suited to rapid and comprehensive systems analyses. As an alternative, we are developing a hybridization-based detection system in which a large set of DNA probes is immobilized in a microarray format. The probes are designed to be complementary to the 16S rRNAs of selected bacterial species, genera, or higher taxonomic groupings. This design provides for flexibility in microbial monitoring strategies, because new target groups can be easily incorporated in the existing microarray design. Since this hybridization format provides for massively parallel hybridization, the simultaneous identification of many microbial populations can be made rapid and routine. The probes measure cellular rRNA directly, and thus the biases of culture and signal amplification are greatly reduced. Our recent studies have developed new criteria for probe design and validation that should facilitate implementation of this technology.