Molecular Analyses
Water Quality Control

Water is perhaps the most precious resource for humans, as it is essential for the vast majority of our needs and activities.

Its quality determines the quality of life itself.

The World Health Organisation has established strict quality criteria, which vary according to its origin and use.

The main categories of use can be summarised as:

  • Drinking water: - Mains water/ Boreholes - Natural Mineral Water
  • Non-drinking water: - Domestic use - Domestic use
  • Swimming water

Common Characteristics - Qualitative Criteria

Despite the reasonable variations in the quality requirements for the above, there are basic common characteristics for their control, which are covered inclusively by the following quality criteria:

  • Microbiological: The presence of pathogenic microorganisms in water poses an immediate risk to public health.
  • Chemical: Quite extensive is the list of chemicals and their permissible concentration limits in water.
  • Organoleptic: This category mainly includes aesthetic characteristics.

Water Quality Assurance - Gaps & Questions

Despite extensive efforts around the world to comply with and monitor safety standards, as well as the establishment of a multitude of quality criteria, full assurance of water quality is difficult to achieve, as gaps and questions are constantly arising.

Αt Smallomics, we have established a state-of-the-art molecular analysis laboratory that applies the most innovative and developing molecular techniques:

  • Next Generation Sequencing (NGS)
  • Real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction (real-time-PCR)

Microbiome Mapping

We specialise in microbiome mapping, i.e. the qualitative identification of all microorganisms in a sample.

We also possess deep knowledge and experience in bio-statistical data analysis, achieving the comprehensive microbiological study of water, which can lead to useful conclusions.

Why Smallomics? Aren't the usual conventional analyses enough?

Legally required analyses answer the question of safety to a certain extent, but this is limited and does not cover all safety requirements. And with regard to quality optimization, the possibilities have been limited until recently.

The accelerated development of molecular analysis techniques is constantly revealing the secrets of the functioning of biological systems.

With the comprehensive microbiological study offered by Smallomics there is the possibility of deciphering, explaining and ultimately predicting undesirable changes. This information, which could not be extracted from conventional controls, is extremely useful to the producer/supplier.

A.) Next Generation Sequencing (NGS)

Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) techniques have an advantage over conventional culture methods in that all existing micro-organisms, including those found in low abundance and those not grown in a dish, are determined by percentage. No special sample preparation is required and contamination is minimised.

The study of the microbiome can be focused on domains (bacteria, archaea, eukaryotes) or directed to the genome and the functions of its constituent structural groups. The strategy is determined by the specificities of the subject under scrutiny.

A very important advantage of NGS molecular techniques and the biostatistical analysis of the extracted data is the discovery of the causes of quality degradation on its own or in collaboration with other physicochemical findings and the guiding corrective actions proposed:

  • Microbiological parameters The causes of the presence of pathogenic strains or absence of "desirable" microorganisms can be determined and indicate water system quality. Unusual microbiological composition, high concentration of 'suspicious' microorganisms are some examples that contribute to early prediction and correction of undesirable changes.
  • Chemical parameters High measurements of undesirable chemicals can be explained by microbiome analysis, as the metabolic pathways that cause an increase in these parameters (e.g. nitrates, sulfates, etc.) are identified. This makes it easier to identify the critical point of origin of the problem.
  • Organoleptic characteristics Odour, discolouration, turbidity, etc. parameters are likely to be caused, directly or indirectly, by microbes not easily detected or identified by conventional methods. Such a product may be safe but not acceptable to the consumer. Unlocking the microbiome directly addresses the causes of this type of quality deterioration.

B.) Environmental Monitoring

With a uniform and long-term plan for systematic monitoring and evaluation of water quality, maximum quality is achieved.

By analyzing the microbiome from specific sampling points at regular intervals, it is possible to detect/anticipate changes that may adversely affect quality and/or safety in a timely manner.

Ιt is a dynamic process as it creates a database which is enriched over time with new data.

From the biostatistical analysis it is possible to trace and identify the origin of undesired changes in microbial community composition.

Indicatively, systematic monitoring can be applied to water of all uses and especially to:

  • Drinking Water
  • Water as a Food and Beverage Additive
  • Water used as a Food Additive for Food Supplements
  • Biological Purification
  • Aquatic Environmental Ecosystems

C.) Polymerase Chain Reaction (realtime PCR)

Nowadays, we have all become familiar with this particular molecular technique. It is already applied to a wide range of analyses based on the qualitative and quantitative determination of genes.

PCR has advantages in terms of speed, reliability and competitive costs.

Some of the PCR analysis possibilities applied by Smallomics are listed as an indication:

  • Qualitative and quantitative identification of pathogens and allergens (E. Coli, Shigella, Salmonella, Fungi, Campylobacter etc.)
  • Detection of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)
  • Detection of Antibiotic Resistant Genes (ARGs)
  • Biological Purification
  • Aquatic Environmental Ecosystems