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Hugh E. Olsen

Detecting SARS-CoV-2 and other pathogens in aerosols at wastewater treatment plants

About Hugh E. Olsen

Hugh E. Olsen received his Ph.D. in Pharmacology and Toxicology from the University of California, Davis, in 1989. His dissertation focused on mechanisms of aflatoxin B1 genotoxicity and carcinogenicity. Hugh has spent the last twelve years working on nanopore sequencing technology at the University of California within the nanopore sequencing group headed by Mark Akeson. He is currently working in two areas, direct sequencing of RNA, and high-throughput ultra-long sequencing of human genomes.


We determined if aeration of SARS-CoV-2 containing wastewater generated aerosols containing SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acids. A high-volume air sampler was positioned in proximity to the disk aerator array at the UC Davis campus wastewater treatment facility. Aerosol samples were collected, extracted, and concentrated using hollow-fiber membrane technology (InnovaPrep). DNA and RNA were then purified from aerosol extracts and wastewater. SARS-CoV-2 RT-qPCR was positive for wastewater samples and four aerosol extracts. Nanopore sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 was performed using the ARTIC protocol. Nanopore sequencing of DNA was performed using LSK109 sequencing chemistry. Metagenomic analysis was performed on the DNA sequences.

Hugh  E. Olsen

Hugh E. Olsen

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