Scientists develop fast bacteria detector

US - A new DNA-based test machine for identifying deadly bacteria is faster, easier to use and more precise than some methods currently used by food and beverage processors, according to research by the US's department of agriculture.

Scientists at the department say they have developed a machine called a “flow cytometer” that can handle up to 100 samples at a time and identify Listeria monocytogenes and Candida albicans bacteria with accuracy within a day.

Listeria is a hardy pathogen that resists freezing, drying and heat processes and has been responsible for numerous and sometimes deadly outbreaks of food poisoning infections around the world. Candida, a yeast, can be lethal to individuals with weakened immune systems. It is one of a number of yeasts that can cause spoilage in food and drinks.

Currently pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) is considered the best method for genetically identifying Listeria bacteria that cause food poisoning. But PFGE is difficult to run, takes about three days to produce a result and has several disadvantages that complicate efforts to determine the relationships between different bacteria, say the scientists.

calendar icon 5 July 2005
clock icon 1 minute read
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