dispatches from Lab Innovations

Pattern profiling of microorganisms to enable fast detection

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

Bruker explains how it uses pattern profiling

Related tags Microbiology

Pattern profiling can be used to detect possible microorganisms in food, according to Bruker.

The technique involves collecting around 100 unique bits of information from a microorganism.

Dr Gerold Schwarz, business development manager of microbiology at Bruker, told FoodQualityNews.com that it creates a peak list or a peak pattern of signals from microorganisms which can be compared to a set of thousands of already stored patterns.

The best match is than shown as a hit or can form part of a top ten list to increase accuracy, he said.

“It is almost like forensics, as soon as we see main information, in terms of is there Salmonella there yes or no, as soon as we see these dominant peaks we then do pattern profiling and it is just mathematics, it is there or it is not there, which means the accuracy is extremely high which means the reliability of the technique is enormous.”

The pattern profile workflow includes selecting a colony, smear and adding the matrix, creating the project at Bench level, generating a MALDI-TOF spectrum, match the profile with the library, final review by microbiologist and then into the LIMS system.   

Ensuring safe food

Schwarz said the firm produces equipment to analyse food in terms of going for a fast preparation, enriching microorganisms and detecting them within seconds.

“In terms of sample preparation, of course we have to follow the dedicated rules, to plate, to enrich these organisms on agar plates or in liquid broth cultures but as soon as something is growing we can detect in seconds.

“For example, if you have a Salmonella infection in food we can see that within minutes. We can confirm what we have here is a serious pathogen in the food and we are not allowed to distribute it anymore.”

Producers can do quality control in house in terms of if they are continually producing the food they can find a quality check to make sure there is no Salmonella in there, there is no Listeria in there and there is no Campylobacter in there, said Schwarz.

Critical control points

Within the food supply chain, any vendor wants to make sure that during the complete procedure everything is done correctly.

If you have critical control points and collect samples, they can be immediately analysed and answers received along the complete chain, he said.

“So you have to make sure that people handling the food are not ill, so for a food producer it is about continuous process control and each at these stages you can use our system and it tells you, well we have here a contamination.”

Schwarz added it can also be used in terms of raw material control at the beginning of the process.

Bruker added it is working on products that could help detect for viruses, which at the moment, rely mostly on traditional methods such as PCR.

The laboratory technology and consumables, analytics and biotech equipment event took place in Birmingham, UK at the NEC arena.

Attendees included Sainsbury’s, United Biscuits, Britvic Soft Drinks, Lucozade Ribena Suntory, Nestlé, Costa/Whitbread and PepsiCo.

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