A new, automated rapid fluorometric method for the detection of Escherichia coli in recreational waters

Andrew J. Bramburger, R. Stephen Brown, Jennifer Haley, Jeffrey J. Ridal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Membrane filtration/culture techniques have been demonstrated to be reliable and broadly applicable for determination of fecal contamination in recreational waters. The time-consuming nature of culture techniques, however, is viewed as the major disadvantage of this type of analysis, and many authors have asserted the need for improved rapid-detection methods. In this study, we evaluated the performance of the ENDETEC™ TECTA™ B16, an automated fluorometry-based microbial detection system, by comparing its detection time and accuracy to those of two common culture-based methods, which are widely-used for recreational water quality monitoring in Canada. Our results demonstrated that Escherichia coli densities inferred by the TECTA™ method were generally in agreement with those generated by standard culture methods (y=1.19x+0.002, R2=0.89) and under the current calibration regime, TECTA™ tended to slightly overestimate E. coli densities. In addition, TECTA™ was able to detect E. coli densities in exceedance of the Ontario Provincial Water Quality Objective for recreational waters in as little as 4h (mean detection time=7.03h), representing a substantial improvement over traditional culture techniques. Our findings suggest that with improved calibration, TECTA™ may provide a viable, cost-effective, rapid alternative to culture approaches for the detection of fecal contamination in recreational waters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)298-302
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Great Lakes Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was partially supported by an RBC Blue Water Fund grant and a Trillium Foundation grant to SLRIES. The TECTA™ instrument and consumables were provided by Pathogen Detection Systems Inc. The authors would like to acknowledge field and lab assistance from Sean Phippen, Laura St. Marseille, Jacob Saunders, Jason Szwec and Luc St. Pierre.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 International Association for Great Lakes Research.


  • Beaches
  • E. coli
  • Pathogens
  • Rapid detection
  • Recreational water quality
  • St. Lawrence River


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