Magazine Features

Using Molecular Diagnostics for Wastewater Monitoring

Wastewater treatment plant operators have relied on a variety of monitoring tools — DO, pH, SV30/SVI, sludge depth — to keep facilities running efficiently and within permit requirements. While microscopic exams and ATP measurements provide insight into the health of the biological…

Using Molecular Testing in Wastewater Applications

Molecular diagnostic tools including qPCR and 16s Microbial Community Analysis represent a leap into biological wastewater monitoring as they directly measure biological wastewater system microbial populations. Previously only used in research…

Hydrocarbon Engineering – A Reflection on the Pandemic

Stan Barskov of Athlon, a Halliburton Service, and Paul Campbell of Aster Bio have authored an article in the April 2021 issue of Hydrocarbon Engineering. “Delving deeper into wastewater” discusses how molecular testing…

Useful Publications

Getting quantitative results out of wastewater samples? Your treatment chemistry may interfere with DNA recovery!

Purifying DNA from different environmental samples has always been a challenge. There are many different “interfering compounds” in an MLSS sample that can interfere with molecular testing….

Wastewater Chronic Toxicity – Troubleshooting with Microbial Community Analysis

One of the fun things about wastewater microbial community analysis (MCA) is that we can often tell what type of influent the plant is seeing without any prior knowledge. We can even identify.…

qPCR for wastewater filamentous bulking ID, monitoring, and control

Wastewater treatment operators have been using microscopic examinations of their sludge for decades. These operators are accustomed to describing what they see under the scope in qualitative terms such as…

Molecular (DNA) Testing in Wastewater – Test Types & Applications

Molecular DNA testing tools play a crucial role in wastewater treatment processes by enabling the monitoring and assessment of microbial…

The Research Bottleneck

Our ability to discover new microorganisms far exceeds our ability to understand and confirm the roles that they may play in different environmental niches. You can extract DNA from almost any random environmental sample, subject it to…

Nutrient limitation – can activated sludge fix nitrogen?

Sometimes, the same question pops up a few times in one week. This week, we were asked about tracking nitrogen fixation in cases of suspected nutrient…

Healthy petrochemical WWTPs have 4 microbial genera in common

The wastewater treatment plant microorganisms, often called biofilm, MLSS or MLVSS, depend upon influent composition, biological treatment unit environmental conditions and treatment plant operations…

Commercializing Gut Microbiome Research

Research on the gut microbiome has exploded – and there’s been an associated boom in start-up companies trying to capitalize on this research to create services, diagnostics and products…

Microbial communities

Here’s a snapshot – a microbial census – of an anaerobic digester that degrades wastewater from a terephthalic acid (PTA) plant: This microbial census gives us some insight into how this microbial community operates…

Part 1: What’s the difference between microbiome and microbiota?

What’s one of the biggest obstacles to getting non-scientists to understand all the new and exciting findings that get published every day? Vocabulary…

Part 2: What’s the difference between microbiome and microbiota?

The good news? I think us scientists generally agree about the term microbiota! Again, microbiota refers to all the microorganisms (bacteria, archaea, fungi…

Microbial Syntrophy: When 2+2 ≠ 4

One of the major findings of microbiome analyses is that we cannot culture (grow in a laboratory) a very significant portion of the microbes in the world…

What do sea squirts and humans have in common?

At first glance, we don’t have a lot in common with those creatures. But we definitely share one thing in common – we’re both from the phylum Chordata…

Metagenomics or qPCR for Wastewater Monitoring? Why not Both?

In molecular diagnostics, we use many different techniques to analyze individual molecules present in a sample. And, while you hear a great deal about the…

Wastewater Microbiomes

I suspect that at least 10 new “microbiome” articles are published each day – there’s even a journal titled “Microbiome.” Although most articles are…

Where do you fit in?

Aster Bio specializes in diagnosing, reporting, and making sense of biological wastewater data for WWTP operators, to focus on the important microorganisms impacting operations. 



  • Pulp & paper
  • Refining/petrochemical
  • Organic chemical & pharmaceutical
  • Food processing
  • Industrial pretreatment


  • Collection systems
  • Wastewater treatment plants


Soil Contamination

  • Hydrocarbons
  • Organic chemicals (xenobiotic compounds)

Water Contamination

  • Holding ponds (surface water)
  • Groundwater