oocysts are known for being very robust, and their prolonged survival in the environment has resulted in outbreaks of cryptosporidiosis associated with the consumption of contaminated water or food. Although inactivation methods used for drinking water treatment, such as UV irradiation, can inactivate Cryptosporidium
oocysts, they are not necessarily suitable for use with other environmental matrices, such as food. In order to identify alternative ways to inactivate Cryptosporidium
oocysts, improved methods for viability assessment are needed. Here we describe a proof of concept for a novel approach for determining how effective inactivation treatments are at killing pathogens, such as the parasite Cryptosporidium.
RNA sequencing was used to identify potential up-regulated target genes induced by oxidative stress, and a reverse transcription quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) protocol was developed to assess their up-regulation following exposure to different induction treatments. Accordingly, RT-qPCR protocols targeting thioredoxin and Cryptosporidium
oocyst wall protein 7 (COWP7) genes were evaluated on mixtures of viable and inactivated oocysts, and on oocysts subjected to various potential inactivation treatments such as freezing and chlorination. The results from the present proof-of-concept experiments indicate that this could be a useful tool in efforts towards assessing potential technologies for inactivating Cryptosporidium
in different environmental matrices. Furthermore, this approach could also be used for similar investigations with other pathogens.
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