The Australian Water Quality Centre (AWQC) staff

The Australian Water Quality Centre (AWQC) has become the first laboratory in Australia to use bacterial DNA molecular analysis to optimise water quality management, after receiving full National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accreditation.

AWQC’s Manager Field and Life Science Services, Dr Thorsten Mosisch, said the bacterial DNA testing method allows them to characterise entire microbial communities and reveal a diversity of never-before-seen microorganisms, due to their difficulty in being successfully isolated by traditional culture methods.

“Leading the field in microbiological testing and analysis, the AWQC has an unrivalled track record of developing and validating more effective testing methods for the detection of waterborne pathogens, in the interests of protecting public health,” Dr Thorsten said.

“Proper assessment of pathogens, as part of water quality monitoring, is essential for operational decision making when improving water treatment processes to prevent waterborne disease outbreaks.”

According to Dr Thorsten, the most likely health risk associated with drinking water is contamination by microbiological pathogens, and the ongoing safety of water supplies relies heavily on microbiological testing.

“In response, we have developed advanced next generation sequencing (NGS) DNA testing methods to optimise water quality management,” Dr Thorsten said. 

“As part of this, we have curated the most extensive DNA database of waterborne microbiological pathogens in Australia and developed molecular testing methods that provide unrivalled pathogen testing results for a broad range of applications.”

Achieving and retaining NATA accreditation requires a rigorous process, involving regular reviews and audits of the laboratory, undertaken by independent experts.

“Attaining NATA accreditation for bacterial DNA molecular analysis is a fantastic achievement, and I’m extremely proud of everyone’s hard work and persistence in making it happen,” Dr Thorsten said.

“Apart from specialised pathology and genomics laboratories and hospitals, we are the only water industry laboratory that is NATA accredited for molecular analysis in Australia.

“This gives us an advantage in a very competitive environment and has significant benefits for improving public health, water quality research and informing operational decision-making.”

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