What's Living in Your Water?



Reduce Surface Water Related Diseases

The EPA has estimated that up to 3.5 million people per year become ill due to contact with raw sewage from sanitary sewer overflows, and that ten percent of all water samples taken from American beaches exceed the protective benchmark for swimmer safety. Illnesses associated with polluted beach water include stomach flu, skin rashes, pinkeye, respiratory infections, meningitis, and hepatitis.

Regulatory agencies and municipal water operators rely on total coliform tests to provide an assessment of water quality. Positive coliform detections indicate there may be fecal pollution in the water. This may be misleading because coliform tests include several fecal bacteria as well as many naturally occurring environmental bacteria not associated with fecal contamination. In addition, coliform tests are not effective in tracking the source of the contamination. They can not distinguish human-associated bacteria from things like animals or birds.


What are some example applications in surface water / source tracking?

  • Biological contamination can come from sewage overflows, agricultural run off, birds, and other sources.
  • DNA methods distinguish each type of source. For instance, humans, cows, horses, pigs and birds can be distinguished.
  • Once the source is understood, it can be tracked to where it came from much more accurately and efficiently than is possible with any other type of microbiological analysis.

Recent Case Studies

Objective: Contamination Source Tracking

Lakes and Fresh Water Recreation

A DNA-based microbial analysis was conducted to identify and quantify microbes associated with high coliform test results on the Great Lakes, near an urban recreational beach. The traditional coliform tests were not able to determine whether the contamination was from human-associated bacteria or from other contamination sources. The DNA analyses concluded the fecal contamination was associated with birds. This provided conclusive evidence that the contamination was not from sewer overflows known to be a problem during periods of excessive rains.

How to Order DNA Analysis of Surface Water

1. Order DNA Analysis Online

After receipt of order, we will ship our kit to you which contains supplies for collecting the wastewater sample.

2. Collect Representative Sample

Wear gloves to prevent contamination. For liquid samples, use instructions below. For solids, add sample and yellow dessicant card to the Whirl-Pak bag and seal.

3. Fill out Chain of Custody Card 

Add Whirl-Pak bag or filter housing (dry off housing with a clean paper towel first) to zip loc bag with completed COC form and yellow desiccant card.

4. Register and Enter Sample Data

Sample ID number is on the red label, located on the COC card. Enter data at MicrobeDetectives.com/register

Please note we cannot process sample until registration is completed.

5. Ship to Microbe Detectives

Microbe Detectives 935 Curtiss Street, Suite 3, Downers Grove IL 60515

After you have collected, registered and shipped your sample, you will receive a DNA Analysis report focusing on bacteria that are typically important in wastewater, produced by a doctoral-level application expert.

DNA Analysis Kit


DNA analysis of submitted sample, includes kit with collection supplies.

dna analysis pricing

Include shipping of samples to lab?

Send analysis report to email address below *

SKU: RET-KIT Categories: , ,


DNA analysis of submitted sample, includes kit with collection supplies. The DNA Analysis will be produced by a doctoral-level application expert and will include a summary of the total data, focusing on bacteria that are typically important in water systems. The full data is also provided in a spreadsheet. Data presented are bacterial relative abundance (% of total bacteria in the sample). For example 0.12% Actinobacteria means that 0.12% of bacteria in the sample are Actinobacteria. Interpretation of the results that is application specific is communicated in a detailed report via email. Consulting services are available for an additional fee, subject to a scope of work, contact us to discuss options.

Additional information

Weight 5.3 oz
Dimensions 6.5 x 4.5 x 1.5 in

Easy Sample Collection Instructions

draw water

A. Draw 1ml of wastewater or draw 50ml of process or surface water. For drinking water, draw 50ml into the syringe, repeat steps A, B, C and D six times to push through a total of 300ml or until you feel back pressure, indicating filter clogging.

screw housing

B. Screw the filter housing onto the syringe. The housing contains a filter to collect microbes.

push water

C. Push the syringe plunger to force sample through the filter housing. Stop forcing through the filter if you feel back pressure indicating filter clogging. Record the actual volume.

unscrew housing

D. Unscrew the filter housing from the syringe. Discard syringe after total amount is collected. DO NOT DISASSEMBLE FILTER HOUSING. This would expose and contaminate sample.

Dna Analysis in Surface Water News

Only 7 Seats Left at the 2017 Microbiome Water Summit!

Only 7 Seats Left at the 2017 Microbiome Water Summit!

We hope to see you at Microbe Detectives' Microbiome Water Summit 2017! The Microbiome Water Summit 2017 is Microbe Detectives' inaugural leadership summit, where leading experts will explore the application of modern DNA science and technology to help optimize the...

Water Executive Ralph Wagner Joins Microbe Detectives

Water Executive Ralph Wagner Joins Microbe Detectives

August 28, 2017 - Mr. Ralph Wagner joined Microbe Detectives today as the Vice President of Business Development. He will be focusing on developing corporate partnerships to optimize wastewater treatment and resource recovery solutions in the areas of...