The researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory said the technology -- the Lawrence Livermore Microbial Detection Array -- will be of value in detecting bioterrorism attacks, diagnosing diseases and checking product safety.
"The (array) allows us to not only identify the biological pathogens on a priority screening list, but also any other already-sequenced bacteria or virus in a sample that you might not have been expecting to find, including possible novel or emerging pathogens," said Tom Slezak, the laboratory's associate program leader for informatics.
Officials said current plans call for the detection array to be evaluated for operational bioforensic use at the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center in Maryland.
In April, an earlier version of the technology unexpectedly detected the presence of an apparently benign pig virus in a vaccine.
Researchers said they are now testing a next-generation array that boasts 2.1 million probes, representing about 178,000 viral sequences and about 785,000 bacterial sequences, as well as fungi and protozoa.
The research includes scientists from the University of California-San Francisco; the Blood Systems Research Institute; the University of Texas Medical Branch, the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Denmark's Statens Serum Institute, the University of California-Davis; Imigene; the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and the Marine Mammal Center.