VIRCONT is a service and scientific consultancy at the University of Barcelona, integrated within the Laboratory of Virus contaminants of Water and Food at the Department of the Microbiology of the Faculty of Biology.

Our intention is providing the society with knowledge and expertise on the study, detection and quantification of viral contaminants in all types of water matrices and food, as well as promoting transference to industry and public health laboratories in the form of technological innovation.

Our main objectives are:

1- Disseminate the research activity of the Group within the centers of R+D+I, both in the private and public sector (public health laboratories, agro-alimentary and/or biotechnological companies, hospitals, biomedicine research centers, universities, etc).

2- Develop, promote and articulate knowledge transference activities through projects and scientific-technical services, within the expertise areas of the Group.

3- Provide added value to the products of our promoters.

4- Participate in the training of professionals within the research area.

5- Contribute to the improvement of environment, water and food quality in relation to viral infections in high and low-income areas.

Areas of Expertise

VIRCONT offers scientific and technical consultancy in the areas of expertise derived from the research activity of the Group:


- Identification of the origin of the contamination (ex. Identification of the potential source of nitrates or fecal bacterial standards) in ground and superficial water by analyzing specific human and animal viral markers developed as microbial source tracking (MST) tools.

- Identification of water and food as a source of outbreaks by water or food-borne viruses.

- Detection, quantification and characterization of viruses as contaminants in water and water treatment plants. Matrices analyzed: urban sewage, sludge and biosolids, regenerated water, ground water, drinking water, freshwater and seawater.

- Evaluation of pilot plants/processes and new disinfection treatments for viruses in water or in food industry.

- Studies on the fecal contamination of bathing areas analyzing new human virus indicators (adenovirus and polyomavirus) in addition to bacterial fecal standards and other specific human viral pathogens.

- Detection, quantification and characterization of viruses as contaminants of food. Matrices analyzed: shellfish, vegetables, meat, and other foodstuffs.

- Development of new molecular methods for the analysis of viruses.

- Analysis and characterization of new and emergent viruses in water or food.

- Developing of low cost methods for the purification of water at the point of use. Cooperation and implementation of water treatments in low income countries and humanitarian emergencies.

The studied viruses are: new viral indicators of human fecal contamination for the control of water quality such as human adenoviruses, and human polyomavirus (JCPyV, BKPyV and MCPyV), viral pathogens as hepatitis A and E viruses (HAV and HEV), noroviruses, enteroviruses, rotaviruses and other human emergent viruses, prions. Viral markers have also been developed as the most specific microbial source tracking tools (MST) and are human (JCPyV and HAdV) and animal specific viruses (swine, bovine, poultry and ovine) used for the quantification and characterization of the origin of the fecal contamination in the environment, water and food.

Contact information:

Team leader: Prof. Rosina Girones
Laboratory of virus contaminants of water and food
Dep. Microbiology
Faculty of Biology
University of Barcelona
Diagonal, 643
08028- Barcelona
Tel: +34 934021483
Fax: +34 934110592

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URBANWAT is a project financed by the EU Commission under the call “Closing the Water Cycle Gap”of  the Water JPI Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda. This research propose an improvement of tools and criteria for groundwater management in urban areas to ensure the sustainability of urban water resources and define their potential uses, from an integral approach.



New METAgenomics and molecular based tools for european scale identification and control of emergent microbial contaminants in irrigation WATER.

Irrigation water may be the source of microbiological contamination of fresh vegetables and has been associated to important food-borne epidemics of gastroenteritis, acute hepatitis and other important diseases.