Journal: Analytica Chimica Acta, vol. 565, p. 10–16, 2006
International Standard Numbers:
Open Access: none
The aim of this study was to develop a novel, rapid system for detection and monitoring of growth of undesirable bacteria in food using gas-sensor array technology. Three spoilage bacteria isolated from a cheese-processing hall were identified as Serratia marcescens, Serratia proteamacufans and Pseudomonas putida. The growth of these bacteria in milk was investigated using a commercial solid state based gas-sensor array system. On the basis of the temporal sensor readings of the pure cultures, bacterial growth could be monitored and the individual strains identified and followed throughout the complete growth cycle in both single and mixed culture. The gas-sensor signals could be used as early indicators of the onset of bacterial growth. Start detection of volatile bacterial metabolites coincided with the start of the exponential growth phase taking place around 7 h after inoculation and corresponding to bacterial numbers of 104 (cfu/ml). The results were confirmed by comparing the gas profiles with the cell counts and by headspace gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC/MS) of volatile microbial metabolites. High correlation (r > 0.90, p < 0.001) was found between the gas-sensor readings and major secondary volatile metabolites. Using the sensor readings, cell numbers of single strain cultures could be predicted with an error of less than 5%. The results show that it is possible to monitor growth of individual strains of spoilage bacteria in a mixed culture in milk on the basis of the type and amount of volatile compounds which they produce, using a gas-sensor array system. The system thus affords possibilities for further development for quick, more accurate and full scale determinations of shelf life, the design of spoilage indicators, rapid identification of undesired microorganisms and rapid measurements of spoilage.