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Rapid detection of Escherichia coli in beverages using genetically engineered bacteriophage T7.

  • Author(s): Wisuthiphaet, Nicharee
  • Yang, Xu
  • Young, Glenn M
  • Nitin, Nitin
  • et al.
Abstract

Foodborne illness due to bacterial contamination is a significant issue impacting public health that demands new technology which is practical to implement by food industry. Detection of bacteria in food products and production facilities is a crucial strategy supporting food safety assessments. Bacteriophages were investigated as a tool for bacterial detection due to their ability to infect specific strain of host bacteria in order to improve sensitivity, specificity, and rapidity of bacterial detection. The results of this investigation reveal a novel method for rapid detection. The method employs a genetically engineered bacteriophage, phage T7-ALP, which expresses alkaline phosphatase. Upon infection of Escherichia coli, overexpression of alkaline phosphatase provides an opportunity for rapid sensitive detection of a signal indicative of bacterial presence in model beverage samples as low as 100 bacteria per gram. The method employs a fluorescent precipitated substrate, ELF-97, as a substrate for alkaline phosphatase activity coupled with fluorescence imaging and image analysis allowing single-cell imaging results in high detection sensitivity. The method is easily completed within less than 6 h enabling it to be deployed within most large industrial food processing facilities that have routine 8-h operational shifts.

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