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Traditional methods for extracting DNA from spores are too harsh to produce material suitable for reliable measurements.
Because sample stability is a key requirement for reference materials, NIST and Army researchers recently compared different methods for measuring the concentration, biological activity and stability of laboratory-grade Bacillus anthracis spores under different storage conditions.
concentrations: counting spores under a microscope and counting the bacterial colonies that grow after the spores are spread on a nutrient surface and germinate.
Researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the U. Army Dugway (Utah) Proving Ground have developed reliable methods based on DNA analysis to assess the concentration and viability of anthrax spores after prolonged storage.
The techniques and data are essential steps in developing a reliable reference standard for anthrax detection and decontamination.
This method not only measures the DNA extracted from viable anthrax spores but also DNA in solution from damaged spores, cell debris and spore fragments—giving a truer measure of the source of DNA in the samples.
Additionally, many of the new instruments available for rapid detection of anthrax spores are based on DNA markers, so it is important to accurately measure the DNA content of the reference samples that will be used to test and calibrate these devices.