Microbial Community Microarrays to Assess Chemical and Biological Characteristics of Water Quality

EPA Contract Number: EPD07041
Title: Microbial Community Microarrays to Assess Chemical and Biological Characteristics of Water Quality
Investigators: Marshall, Michael
Small Business: Southeast TechInventures, Inc.
EPA Contact: Manager, SBIR Program
Phase: I
Project Period: March 1, 2007 through August 31, 2007
Project Amount: $69,904
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (2007) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: SBIR - Water and Wastewater , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)


This Phase I SBIR project intends to demonstrate the feasibility of a freshwater microbial community microarray, called the WaterChip™, for detecting the presence of an important model for mercury chemical pollutant in freshwater. By demonstrating its utility for detecting evidence of this pollutant, the basis for expanding the WaterChip’s capability to other environmental toxins and pollutants will be undertaken in Phase II. The ultimate goal of the proposed work is to develop a tool that provides comprehensive, economic, and rapid evaluation of water quality. A variety of pathogens, toxins, and pollutants currently pose significant regulatory, legal, and health concerns for any business, farm, residence, municipality, or recreational water parks that must meet appropriate water quality and safety standards. The current detection of these agents requires different types of equipment and employs tests that are often labor-intensive, time-consuming, and expensive. Our proposed WaterChip™ technology is based on detecting individual DNA fingerprints derived from environmental samples to indicate the presence of specific chemical and biological contaminants. This approach will offer a single, rapid, broad-spectrum environmental diagnostic platform that facilitates protection of the environment and public health. The microarray also has the potential to serve as a discovery tool for environmental microbes that are useful for bioremediation.

The water test equipment and service market is a multi-billion dollar industry with a 5-7 percent steady growth rate. Our ultimate goal is to develop a unique water quality test that can be used as a laboratory tool and in remote, real-time monitoring systems. The test platform can reduce the fixed costs of equipment and laboratory training, providing economies of scale for routine testing of water supplies. It also can be used for the detection of rare, inadvertent, or bioterrorist events that could pose serious public safety concerns. With the distinct advantages of an “all-in-one” test, offering high sensitivity and high-speed, we have the utmost confidence that we can develop a standard commercial product that can significantly improve water quality testing. In addition to its commercial benefit, this research project also will benefit education, technology development, and society.

Supplemental Keywords:

small business, SBIR, EPA, water quality, WaterChip™, mercury, chemical pollutants,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Water, Environmental Chemistry, Environmental Monitoring, Drinking Water, Environmental Engineering, microbial contamination, drinking water monitoring, water quality, microbial microarrays, drinking water contaminants

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report