Food Engineering

Lab provides growth measurement of micro-organisms

August 3, 2009
Iowa State University's Discovery Lab tests antimicrobials against pathogens. Source: ISU.

Tests include Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella

A new lab at Iowa State University that enables quick identification of antimicrobial and prebiotic compounds is available to researchers working on preventing food spoilage, improving food quality, controlling foodborne pathogens, or enhancing growth of probiotic bacteria.

The Discovery Lab allows researchers to test various plant, microbial or animal sources to determine whether they have antimicrobial or prebiotic properties. It operates within the university’s Center for Crops Utilization Research for on- and off-campus clients.

The lab runs two Bioscreen C Growth Curve units to perform automated growth curve determinations of aerobic or anaerobic microbes under a variety of conditions. Organisms that can be evaluated include a wide variety of foodborne pathogens and bacteria as well as selected yeasts and molds. The units are capable of incubating and evaluating up to 200 different microbial cultures and their growth parameters in a single experiment. Data can be generated in a few days compared to several months using conventional techniques.

Researchers at Iowa State use the bioscreen units to test antimicrobials against pathogens such as Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella. He said food companies could benefit from this lab, especially in instances where suitable natural antimicrobials are needed to meet growing consumer expectations.

Other equipment in the Discovery Lab includes analytical and preparative high-pressure liquid chromatographs, a UV-visible spectrophotometer, an organic spray dryer and laminar-flow hoods. The lab can provide both analytical and preparative services to clients on a fee basis for on- and off-campus users.

For more information about the Discovery Lab, visit the lab’s Web site.