Researchers develop new method to detect E. coli

Research: News Roundup from the March 2020 issue of Canadian Cattlemen

Kansas State University researchers have cut the time required to detect Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, or STEC, in ground beef.

“While the current, commonly used testing method is considered to be the gold standard, it is tedious and requires many days to obtain results that adequately differentiate the bacteria,” said Gary Anderson, director of the International Animal Health and Food Safety Institute at the K-State Olathe campus, in a media release.

The new method requires only a day to confirm results. It was developed for research and food safety inspections that require shorter turnaround and high throughput, without sacrificing detection accuracy. It uses a Kansas State University-patented method with the partition-based multichannel digital polymerase chain reaction system.

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“We believe the new digital polymerase chain reaction detection method developed in this study will be widely used in food safety and inspection services for the rapid detection and confirmation of STEC and other foodborne pathogens,” said Jamie Henningson, director of the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

Anderson, Jianfa Bai, section head of molecular research and development in the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, and Xuming Liu, research assistant professor, developed the testing method. Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory funded the study.

The study, “Single cell-based digital PCR detection and association of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli serogroups and major virulence genes,” which describes the test design and results, was published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.

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