Working Group Molecular Diagnostics
Our mission is the development of bio-analytical tests – mainly based on DNA techniques – for the determination and quantification of (micro)organisms. Our focus is to provide a simple, rapid and inexpensive application of our assays.
Our research activities are divided into two main areas: food & feed analysis and water analysis. The research field food & feed focuses on the sensitive detection of undesired mouldy fungi in foodstuffs. We have developed several test methods to detect and quantify even minor amounts of toxin producing moulds like Fusarium or Aspergillus. Besides the analysis of food and feed we also search for these harmful fungi in soil or even in living plants. So, the techniques developed at the Vienna University of Technology also assist agricultural trial stations to evaluate the influence of parameters like fungicides, crop rotations or different tilling systems on the abundance of toxin producing fungi. Current developments of our food & feed research team can be applied in the detection of food allergens: a DNA based boost system for conventional ELISA systems significantly improves the sensitivity of these immunobased assays and thereby allows the determination of yet minimal amounts of compounds that must be labelled according to EU law. The research field water analysis has developed worldwide unique test systems for faecal indicator bacteria in drinking water. In contrast to conventional microbiologic assays our technique allows the identification of the source of contamination. Based on specific indicator organisms a discrimination of e.g. human or ruminant causer can reliably be determined and even more than one source of contamination can quantitatively be addressed. Due to the unrivalled competence of our team we closely cooperate with industrial partners belonging to the most important water suppliers in Europe.