Screening for Bacillus

September 30/Food & Farm Week -- "Bacillus species may be resistant to processing and sanitation procedures, making their control an important issue in the food industry. The objective of this study was to develop a rapid method for the differentiation of Bacillus cells at the strain level using infrared microspectroscopy and multivariate pattern recognition techniques," scientists in the U.S. report.

"Aliquots (10ml) of vegetative cells (similar to 10(3) CFU/ml) from four strains of each of three Bacillus species (B. cereus, B. mycoides, and B. thuringiensis) were filtered onto hydrophobic grid membranes. The membranes were placed on tryptic soy agar and incubated at 42 degrees C for 24 hours and then removed from the agar and dried, and the biomass of individual vegetative colonies was directly measured by attenuated total reflectance infrared (ATR-IR) microspectroscopy. Soft independent modeling of class analogy models generated from second derivative transformed spectra in the 1,300 to 900 cm(-1) region exhibited clusters that permitted accurate strain-level classification of all isolates. Major discrimination was related to the signal from phosphate-containing compounds, likely phospholipids," wrote E.M. Grasso and colleagues, Ohio State University.

The researchers concluded, "A simple ATR-IR microspectroscopy technique combined with multivariate analysis could provide the food industry with a rapid and reagent-free screening procedure to complement more elaborate molecular identification methods."

Grasso and colleagues published their study in the Journal of Food Protection ("Rapid Differentiation of Bacillus Strains Using Hydrophobic Grid Membranes and Attenuated Total Reflectance Infrared Microspectroscopy." Journal of Food Protection, 2009;72(9):1909-1915).

For more information, contact E.M. Grasso, Ohio State University, Dept. of Food Science & Technology, 2015 Fyffe Rd., Parker Food Science Bldg, Columbus, OH 43210.

From the October 12, 2009, Prepared Foods E-dition