PCR-based detection of non-indigenous microorganisms in ‘pristine’ environments

27 Sep 2010

PCR-based technologies are widely employed for the detection of specific microorganisms, and may be applied to the identification of non-indigenous microorganisms in ‘pristine’ environments. For ‘pristine’ environments such as those found on the Antarctic continent, the application of these methods to the assessment of environmental contamination from human activities must be treated with caution. Issues such as the possibility of non-human dispersal of organisms, stability and survival of non-indigenous organisms in vivo, the sensitivity, reproducibility and specificity of the PCR process (and particularly primer design) and the sampling regime employed must all be considered in detail. We conclude that despite these limitations, PCR and related technologies offer enormous scope for assessment of both natural and non-indigenous microbial distributions.