Studying Microbial Gene Expression in Complex Environmental Matrices Using RT-qPCR
Vijay J. Gadkar and Martin Filion
from: Quantitative Real-time PCR in Applied Microbiology (Edited by: Martin Filion). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2012)
Environmental matrices are highly diverse in their composition and range from simple (e.g. water) to highly complex (e.g. organic soils/biosolids). Analysis of microbial gene expression from such substrates is done for variety of purposes which could range from bio-surveillance to elucidation of biological function of a target microbe. Quantitative real-time PCR (RT-qPCR) has become a technique of choice for studying such bio-processes, due to its unique ability to both detect and quantify a target transcript in real-time. Challenges in extracting inhibitor-free, structurally intact RNA, amenable for a sensitive technique like RT-qPCR, has however proved to be a major impediment in our ability to rigorously implement this highly versatile technology. Despite these "substrate defined" limitations, many attempts have been made to implement the RT-qPCR technology. Efforts like these have given us invaluable insight into the expression status of a particular transcript and hence, the biological functioning of the microbe, specifically under natural in situ conditions. As a result, it has enhanced our understanding of the role and diversity of many microbial populations which, previously was not possible using conventional molecular approaches. In this chapter, we have sought to summarize such technical problems faced by molecular environmental microbiologist and solutions developed to mitigate those challenges read more ...