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To evaluate the use of Enterobacterial Repetitive Intergenic Consensus PCR (ERIC-PCR)-derived probes and primers to specifically detect bacterial strains in an activated sludge microbial community.ERIC-PCR was performed on two phenol-degrading bacterial strains, Arthrobacter nicotianae P1-7 and Klebsiella sp. P8-14. Their amplicons were DIG labelled for use as probes and then hybridized with ERIC-PCR fingerprints. The results showed the distinct band patterns for both bacterial strains. Strain-specific PCR primers were designed based on the sequences of ERIC-PCR bands. The DNA of each of these strains was successfully detected from its mixture with activated sludge DNA, either by using their respective ERIC-PCR-based probes for hybridization or by using species-specific primers for amplification, with higher sensitivity by latter method.Two phenol-degrading bacterial strains were identified from a mixture of activated sludge by using ERIC-PCR-based methods.The study demonstrated that the bacteria, which have important functions in complex wastewater treatment microbial communities, could be specifically detected by using ERIC-PCR fingerprint-based hybridization or amplification.