Major Food Research Centre Chooses ProtoCOL Colony Counter
03 Jan 2012

Synbiosis has announced that its innovative ProtoCOL automated colony counting system is being used at the Robert Mondavi Research Institute, a major US food and wine research centre, to speed up studies on the growth of a variety of bacterial pathogens in food.

Microbiologists in the Robert Mondavi Research Institute (RMI) at the University of California, Davis are using ProtoCOL to look for, and count colonies of bacteria associated with food poisoning on a wide range of media and plate types. These pathogens include E.coli 0157 and Salmonella growing in nuts and fresh produce. Using a ProtoCOL, researchers at the RMI are able to rapidly and accurately monitor how pathogens can grow in different types of storage conditions. It is hoped this information will lead to a greater understanding of how to prevent outbreaks of food poisoning associated with these bacterial pathogens.

Dr Anne-Laure Moyne, Staff Research Associate at the RMI explained: “We run trials looking at how storing products such as almonds, pistachios and lettuce can affect the growth of bacterial contaminants. During these trials, we can generate around 250 spiral, pour plates or gridded filters on plates every day, all of which have to be analyzed. Doing this manually with a light box and pen meant our staff had to work very long days, so we knew we had to automate the process.”

Dr Moyne added: “We tested two automated colony counters side by side but found that because of the different lighting methods only the ProtoCOL could recognize and count black Salmonella colonies when the BSA (bismuth sulphite agar) media they are growing on is green. We also saw the ProtoCOL could count red colonies on red media and distinguish between grid lines and colonies more accurately. This is why we decided the ProtoCOL system was the right one for our research and we have been very happy with the system’s performance.”

Martin Smith of Synbiosis stated: “With recent outbreaks of food poisoning in Europe associated with salad products, research into what triggers bacterial growth is critical. We’re proud to hear the ProtoCOL is being used by microbiologists at such a prestigious food research institute to help improve the productivity of their important trials. The results RMI microbiologists are seeing, especially using chromogenic media, shows scientists in food microbiology laboratories looking for a versatile, accurate automated colony counter that a ProtoCOL is an intelligent choice.”

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