Disposal of human biosolids is a source of concern for public health and the environment. Composting appears to be an interesting alternative to traditional disposal methods as it can decrease the load of human pathogenic microorganisms often present in biosolids and yield an end-product rich in nutrients for use as a soil supplement. Assessing the exact microbial content of biosolids, both for biosafety and operational reasons, has traditionally relied on the use of standard microbiological methods. Recent developments in molecular-based technologies now offer more rapid and specific monitoring of microorganisms in biosolids than culture-based methods. In this study, denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) was adapted to monitor the succession of bacteria in composted biosolids through different steps of compost production. Secondly, a TaqMan quantitative real time PCR (qPCR) approach was developed to detect and quantify the presence of Salmonella species, a model human pathogenic bacterium, susceptible to be found in biosolids. DGGE results indicated that the bacterial content of composted biosolids of different ages belongs to various taxa and significantly changes with age. qPCR results indicated that the quantity of Salmonella species found in composted biosolids ranging from 1 to 24 months significantly decreases with composting time.

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