Biological environmental monitoring (BEM) is a growing field of research which challenges both microfluidics and system automation. The aim is to develop a transportable system with analysis throughput which satisfies the requirements: (i) fully autonomous, (ii) complete protocol integration from sample collection to final analysis, (iii) detection of diluted molecules or biological species in a large real life environmental sample volume, (iv) robustness and (v) flexibility and versatility. This paper discusses all these specifications in order to define an original fluidic architecture based on three connected modules, a sampling module, a sample preparation module and a detection module. The sample preparation module highly concentrates on the pathogens present in a few mL samples of complex and unknown solutions and purifies the pathogens' nucleic acids into a few μL of a controlled buffer. To do so, a two-step concentration protocol based on magnetic beads is automated in a reusable macro-to-micro fluidic system. The detection module is a PCR based miniaturized platform using digital microfluidics, where reactions are performed in 64. nL droplets handled by electrowetting on dielectric (EWOD) actuation. The design and manufacture of the two modules are reported as well as their respective performances. To demonstrate the integration of the complete protocol in the same system, first results of pathogen detection are shown. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.
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