We have compared in extracts of activated sludge the number of enteroviruses detectable with buffalo green monkey (BGM) cell-cultures versus the number of enteroviral genomes determined by reverse-transcription quantitative real-time PCR (RT-qPCR). In order to find conditions adequate for quantifying enteroviral RNA isolated from (waste)water we have investigated affinity capture of RNA with polystyrene beads (Dynabeads). The capture efficiency strongly depended on the genomic region chosen for the affinity binding. Capture of the RNA by its 3′-tail was most efficient (almost 100%); other regions within the genome yielded variable but lower results. Indirect capture (first hybridization of the RNA to the oligonucleotides, then attachment of the duplex molecules to the beads) was much more efficient than direct capture (attachment of the oligonucleotides to the beads first, then binding of the RNA), and resulted in RNA capture of maximally 60–80%. At least partly, this was due to incomplete hybridization of the RNA to the complementary oligonucleotides. No correlation was found between the number of cytopathic effects (CPE) determined by cell culture and the number of genomes quantified by RT-qPCR; RT-qPCR values were consistently much higher than the number of CPE. This points to overestimation of infectious enteroviruses by RT-qPCR and/or underestimation by the cell culture approach.

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