Users of LuminUltra’s 2nd Generation® Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP)-based test kits have been able to rapidly verify the effectiveness and compliance of their water treatment systems by monitoring total microbiological content, saving significant time and money.  But imagine the benefits of being able to zoom in on the actual type of organisms lurking in the water system.

That’s the premise behind GeneCount®, a new suite of DNA-based monitoring tools from Canadian microbiology specialist LuminUltra Technologies.

Using technology developed in-house and through the acquisition last year of InstantLabs, a developer of DNA-based measurement technologies, GeneCount complements LuminUltra’s flagship ATP measurement kits with technologies to quickly and easily identify the type of organisms found in all types of water systems.

While ATP kits determine total microorganism quantity and therefore can confirm water treatment efficacy, GeneCount reveals the specific species found and, importantly, what these organisms are doing.

LuminUltra Technologies’ President & CEO, Pat Whalen, said: “Our 2nd Generation Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) technology is now widely considered the most effective way of rapidly monitoring water microbiological content.  Now, with GeneCount we show exactly the type of microbes present. This is particularly beneficial to the oil and gas and maritime sectors.”

Taking the prevention of biofouling in cooling water and processing systems as an example, hypochlorite dosage rates could be increased or decreased according to the presence and quantities of specific microbes of concern. This offers the potential to reducing operational costs by optimising the amount of chemicals used, extending asset life through reducing corrosion impacts, and reducing the risk of health and environment risks.

Another area in which GeneCount could be used is in the ongoing research into the transfer of aquatic species by ships through ballast water, explained Carine Magdo, Business Development Manager, Ballast Water Monitoring Solutions, LuminUltra.

“GeneCount will be a particularly useful tool for identifying new invasive species in specific areas and to provide risk analysis for ballast water treatment exemption zones. In the current regulations, ballast water treatment is exempt in areas where the species are the same. These areas are reassessed every five years, but if there is a change in the biodiversity, then they will no longer be exempt. With a number of laboratories already using DNA-based tools for this purpose GeneCount will be of significant interest.”

Neil Sharma, Vice-President Product Development, LuminUltra, said: “Working hand-in-hand with the ATP technology, our DNA-based technologies give exponentially more information in understanding the microbiological content of water systems to better manage the cause and effect relationships microbes have on their systems and the environment.

“Since different species are affected in different ways by different treatment processes, GeneCount can be used to optimise the way in which these organisms and microbes are treated. It also supports regulatory development and research into more efficient cooling, biofouling prevention, ballast water treatment, and microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC) mitigation systems.”

The GeneCount suite of products and services includes Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) services that not only identify the types of microbes present but also reveal what damage specific organisms can cause, as well as Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (qPCR) tools for rapid in-laboratory or direct in-field detection and quantification of specific organisms or groups of organisms.

LuminUltra intends to integrate the DNA technology with its ATP-based monitoring tools, including the award-winning ballast water test kit B-QUA and the QGO-M kit used to monitor oily brines, fuel and water in oil and gas production.