Comparative Assessment of BGM and PLC/PRF/5 Cell Lines for Enteric Virus Detection in Biosolids

Sherif Abd-Elmaksoud, Nohelia Castro-del Campo, Charles P. Gerba, Ian L. Pepper, Kelly R. Bright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The buffalo green monkey (BGM) cell line is required for the detection of enteric viruses in biosolids through a total culturable viral assay (TCVA) by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. In the present study, BGM and PLC/PRF/5 cell lines were evaluated for TCVA and for their use in determining the incidence of adenoviruses and enteroviruses in raw sludge and Class B biosolids. Six raw sludge and 17 Class B biosolid samples were collected from 13 wastewater treatment plants from seven U.S. states. Samples were processed via organic flocculation and concentrate volumes equivalent to 4 g total solids were assayed on BGM and PLC/PRF/5 cells. Cell monolayers were observed for cytopathic effect (CPE) after two 14-days passages. Cell lysates were tested for the presence of adenoviruses and enteroviruses by PCR or RT-PCR. The PLC/PRF/5 cells detected more culturable viruses than the BGM cells by CPE (73.9% vs. 56.5%, respectively). 52% of the samples were positive for CPE using both cell lines. No viruses were detected in either cell line by PCR in flasks in which CPE was not observed. No adenoviruses were detected in 13 CPE-positive samples from BGM lysates. In contrast, of the 17 samples exhibiting CPE on PLC/PRF/5 cells, 14 were positive for adenoviruses (82.4%). In conclusion, PLC/PRF/5 cells were superior for the detection of adenoviruses in both raw sludge and Class B biosolids. Thus, the use of BGM cells alone for TCVA may underestimate the viral concentration in sludge/biosolid samples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-39
Number of pages8
JournalFood and Environmental Virology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 15 2019


  • Adenovirus
  • BGM cell line
  • Biosolids
  • Enteric viruses
  • PLC cell line

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Food Science
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Virology


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