Recent Publications

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[From abstract] In this paper a discussion of measurement uncertainty associated with surveillance of wastewater, focusing on lessons-learned from the UK programmes monitoring COVID-19 is presented, showing that sources of uncertainty impacting measurement quality and interpretation of data for public health decision-making, are varied and complex. While some factors remain poorly understood, we present approaches taken by the UK programmes to manage and mitigate the more tractable sources of uncertainty. This work provides a platform to integrate uncertainty management into WBE activities as part of global One Health initiatives beyond the pandemic.

Full references to the paper can be seen on our publications page

In this work, we used a recently discovered human gut bactreiophage, the crAssphage, to evaluate wastewater contamination in river and estuarine water, sediment and mussel. The crAssphage was found in untreated and treates wastewater at extremely high concentrations and detected in the contaminated water, sediment and mussel. Data suggest that the crAssphage may be a valuable tool to detect wastewater contamination in the environment.

Full references to the paper can be seen on our publications page

[Adapted from abstract] In this paper we evaluated diurnal pattern in enteric virus (norovirus, sapovirus and adenovirus) concentrations in treated and untreated wastewater collected bihourly for three days, in three seasons at three locations.  Adenovirus titre was high and relatively constant in all samples, whereas the NoVGI, NoVGII and SaVGI showed high concentrations during autumn and winter and low counts during the summer. Diurnal patterns were detected in pH and turbidity for some sampling periods. Our findings suggest that viral particle number in wastewater is not affected by daily chemical fluctuations. Hence, a grab sample taken at any point during the day may be sufficient to enumerate the viral load of wastewater effluent within an order of magnitude while four samples a day are recommended for testing wastewater influent samples.

Full references to the paper can be seen on our publications page

Here we describe a detailed protocol for the concentration of river, estuarine water and treated and raw wastewater concentration for the detection and quantification of viruses. The method comprises of a primary concentration using tangential flow ultrafiltration followed by elution and secondary precipitation to reduce the volume to 2 mL. We have carefully validated this method and have used for the surveillance of enteric viruses in wastewaters, in surface water samples contaminated with wastewater (> 150 samples). The method is also suitable for the concentration of large volumes (up to 100 L) of surface water for metagenomics approaches.

Full references to the paper can be seen on our publications page


[From abstract] In this study, we investigated the use of viromics, i.e., high-throughput sequencing of the biosphere’s viral fraction, to detect human-/animal-pathogenic RNA viruses in the Conwy river catchment area in Wales, United Kingdom. We found a higher richness of RNA viruses in wastewater samples than in river water and sediment, and we assembled a complete norovirus genotype GI.2 genome from wastewater effluent, which was not contemporaneously detected by conventional reverse transcription-quantitative PCR (qRT-PCR). The simultaneous presence of diverse rotavirus signatures in wastewater indicated the potential for zoonotic infections in the area and suggested runoff from pig farms as a possible origin of these viruses. Our results show that viromics can be an important tool in the discovery of pathogenic viruses in the environment and can be used to inform and optimize reference-based detection methods provided appropriate and rigorous controls are included.

Full references to the paper can be seen on our publications page

This paper analyses the distribution of enteric viruses in the Conwy River and estuary. We have validated a novel two-step concentration method suitable for low and high turbidity (e.g. wastewater), freshwater and seawater samples. We used this and previously established methods for the 1-year surveillance of enteric viruses in wastewater, the receiving river and estuarine water, sediment and shellfish samples. For the first time, we found sapovirus (enteric virus causing gastroenteritis with symptoms similar to norovirus infection) in UK wastewater samples. We also found norovirus in high concentrations during local gastroenteritis outbreaks in all sample types. We also found that due to their high concentrations and lack of seasonal distribution, adenoviruses can be suitable indicators for wastewater contamination tracking in the water environment. Full references to the paper can be seen on our publications page

The second paper to be publish from the VIRAQUA project has been published and is now available to download (  In this study, the authors developed and validated two multiplex qRT-PCR assays for aquatic sediment and shellfish samples targeting viruses that are a common cause of gastroenteritis, along with mengovirus (MgV), which is often used as a sample process control for the assessment of RNA extraction efficiency.  It was concluded that ‘these assays allow the thorough assessment of the target viruses in sediment and shellfish samples and are useful for quantitative risk assessment of wastewater-contaminated environments’.   A full reference for this paper can be found on our publications page.




A collaborative paper, co-authored by Davey Jones, Shelagh Malham and others from Bangor University, Liverpool University, Natural Resources Wales and Bangor Mussel Producers Ltd. reviewing the risk of norovirus infection from the consumption of shellfish had been published in Food and Environmental Virology.  Conclusions are drawn as to the likely impact of climate change and shellfish role in the transmission of norovirus to the human population.  A full reference for this paper can be found on our publications page.





The new year kicked off with the first Viraqua project publication with Kata Farkas, Francis Hassard, James McDonald, Shelagh Malham and Davey Jones all co-authors on a paper in Frontiers in Microbiology evaluating molecular methods for the detection and quantification of pathogen-derived nucleic acids in sediment.” Full references can be found on our publications




The last week has seen two new project publications; David Lees is co-author of a paper modelling risk factors for norovirus contamination of shellfish water whilst Kata Farkas, Davey Jones, Shelagh Malham and James McDonald are all co-authors of a review paper addressing the abundance and distribution of enteric bacteria and viruses in coastal and estuarine sediments  Full references to both papers can be seen on our publications page