The survival of Cryptosporidium parvum oocysts in anaerobic digesters treating manure was investigated for mesophilic, thermophilic, and a combined treatment (mesophilic–thermophilic–mesophilic) under different retention times of oocysts in the reactors. C. parvum DNA was extracted with an optimised protocol, and its amount determined by quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR). Results indicated noteworthy differences in DNA content after the different treatments. DNA was not degraded during the process. However, excystation and infectivity tests showed a reduction of viable oocyst numbers of ≥2 and ≥5 log units after the thermophilic treatment in two different experiments. Thus qPCR-targeting DNA can overestimate the number of oocysts that survive and remain viable after anaerobic digestion. However, targeting DNA is suitable to indicate the presence or absence of oocysts. Reverse transcription qPCR (RT-qPCR) targeting C. parvum hsp70 mRNA successfully indicated the presence of viable fraction of oocysts.

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