Hi Fellow Readers, it’s an exciting day to be alive because it’s Fun[gi] Friday!
In today’s spotlight, we are featuring Marcus Reed, one of our laboratory analysts who is talking about the differences between tests that we offer at Assured Bio Labs, LLC.
Marcus attended Roane State Community College where he earned an Associate of Science in Biology. After transferring to the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, Marcus earned a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology. Outside work, he is an avid Tennessee Volunteer football and basketball fan. Marcus also enjoys playing guitar, golfing, video games, and cinema.
A: What is the difference between M-TRAP and ERMI analysis?
M: The M-TRAP® is a DNA spore trap, more or less. You could say it is an ERMI for the air. It can capture all the mold spores in the air, allow you to distinguish the Aspergillus/Penicillium varieties, which a normal spore trap cannot do. An ERMI analysis can be done on several different things. Primarily, it is done on a dust collector. We will take a vacuum, square off an area of a room or multiple rooms and take the adaptor off of the vacuum and vacuum the area. We’ll take it and filter the dust from that to try to get the purest form of dust, weigh out a certain amount of it and do DNA extraction. When you get the results, it gives you the same panel as what the M-TRAP® would. It will give you 36 common species of molds. Some of them are Group 1 molds, which are water-intrusion molds. Group 2 molds are more common molds, which could be transferred through natural causes. One good thing about an ERMI analysis is that it can give you a historical composite of the room.
A: Why can M-TRAP® separate Aspergillus/Penicillium-like species but spore traps can’t?
M: When you look at Aspergillus and Penicillium under a microscope they look like small greenish, brown spores. It is hard to distinguish between the two even if you look at a plate. You need something DNA-based to really be able to tell them apart. With that, we have different assays that can break them down into several different species.
A: What is the New Big Two Analysis? Why is it better than a standard spore trap?
M: It is collected just like a spore trap but using M-TRAP® technology. It requires a standard pump at 15L/minute for 10 minutes. I remove the capture matrix from the M-TRAP®, and go through the DNA isolation process with it. The analysis isolates a big group of Penicillium/Aspergillus species and Stachybotrys. It’s a great, quick, and cheap way to find out if there’s a mold issue going on. It is much more sensitive compared to a spore trap. We’ve had cases where we would use a spore trap in a room or office and it does not pick up anything,unlike the M-TRAP® which captured several thousand spores of Aspergillus and Penicillium. If you pull an M-TRAP®, it’s going to have much higher capture efficiency and it’s going to pick up a lot more stuff, period. It is definitely a more specific, sensitive test. Moreover, you can be absolutely confident that any Aspergillus and Penicillium spores are correctly identified and quantified with the M-TRAP®. That is not the case with spore trap, where any round, 2-5 micrometer spore is classified as Aspergillus/Penicillium-like. “Like” being a key descriptor for this big catch-all group.
A: You said the Big Two Analysis is cheap. How cheap are we talking?
M: It only costs a fraction of the full ERMI and is aligned more in the range of culturable fungi. The analysis is only $45.00. I like to think that it only cost a little more than the spore trap to go with a first class analysis. Why take chances with a spore trap when the truth is obtainable with the M-TRAP® Big Two Analysis?
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