Before you submit your samples to any laboratory for MBT analysis, ask any potential analytical laboratory the following questions. If they cannot answer appropriately answer ALL of the following questions, consider it a red flag regarding their ability to provide high quality results for MBTs.
How long have you been performing the analysis at your laboratory? Is your MBT analysis performed in house or subcontracted?
Again, there is no substitute for experience. MBTs are a specialty analysis – even established laboratories with years of experience in chemical analyses have failed to successfully offer MBTs. Microbial Insights has 30 years’ experience in the development and application of MBTs and is the industry leader.
Is your lab ISO accredited for qPCR?
ISO certification is test specific. Even laboratories accredited for “Biological Testing” may have been certified for plate count methods but are very unlikely to have been certified for qPCR. Microbial Insights specializes in molecular biological tools and has been ISO/IEC 17025:2017 accredited for qPCR (Certification Number AT-2904).
Are DNA extractions performed the same day the samples are received?
Yes is the only acceptable answer to ensure accurate results. At Microbial Insights, DNA and RNA extractions are performed on all samples the day they are received – even those delivered on Saturday.
Does your laboratory freeze samples upon receipt?
No is the correct answer. For convenience, many labs routinely freeze incoming samples and extract DNA in batches days or even a week later. However, one freeze/thaw cycle can cause key microbial populations to decrease by orders of magnitude. DNA and RNA extractions should be performed on all samples the day they are received by the laboratory.
Do you perform extraction blanks?
Again, yes is the only acceptable answer. Extraction blanks are the only way to test for cross-contamination.
Do you run negative controls?
A negative control must be included with each plate. As with an extraction blank, detection of a target gene in the negative control is direct evidence of contamination and invalidates the sample results.
A positive control must be included with each plate to confirm PCR amplification and as a continuing calibration check.
Can I request additional qPCR targets like Dehalobacter without an additional wait time?
If the answer is anything other than yes, the laboratory surely lacks the experience and dedicated personnel and materials to perform MBT analyses.
Are QA/QC parameters included in standard reports?
If they are being performed, there is no reason why QA/QC results would not be reported.
Are Level IV QA/QC Packages Available?
Similar to traditional analytical data, higher level reports that include raw data should be available. Make sure that the Level IV package includes raw data for the MBT not just the traditional chemical analyses.