Bacteria breakthrough for safer food

Bacteria breakthrough for safer food

CHICKEN meat and other foods will be able to be screened for bacteria even faster and more effectively than ever, thanks to breakthrough nanobiotechnology research, according to The University of Queensland (UQ) in Australia.

A team of scientists from UQ and Australia's Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry (DAFF) will leverage this new technology, which enables DNA amplification on "microspheres" to rapidly detect and identify large numbers of different bacteria at once.

Ross Barnard, director of the biotechnology program at the UQ School of Chemistry & Molecular Biosciences, said, "We hope to use this new technology to be able to detect and type" Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli. "These quick identification techniques can underpin relevant and sustainable programs to further improve food safety.

"The infectious dose for C. jejuni/coli can be very low -- around 500 organisms. This means that sensitive, specific and rapid techniques are particularly important for this organism," Barnard added.

He said while testing methods do exist, they are slower and less effective, so many scientists turned their focus to leveraging existing microsphere technology to a new level.

"After five years, we are now able to extend and develop the platform in ways that haven't been done before," Barnard said. "We will now be able to carry out many typing reactions at once by doing a very large number of DNA amplification reactions at the same time on the surface of the microspheres."

The continuing research will be sponsored by the Poultry Cooperative Research Centre and carried out by UQ doctoral student Liang Fang, alongside Dr. Pat Blackall of the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture & Food Innovation and Jillian Templeton at DAFF.

The discovery was the result of five years of intensive research, and the full scale of the benefits is yet to be known, the university said.

"This is just the beginning. Because this testing is based on a platform technology, it can be applied in many different ways, such as mutation screening in plant, animal and human genomes, as well as for applications in the realm of infectious diseases," Barnard explained.

The discovery was featured this month on the cover of the international journal Analytical Biochemistry and has resulted in an invitation to present the work at the Luminex International Diagnostics Forum in Monaco.


Volume:85 Issue:04

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