Journal : Applied and Environmental Microbiology , vol. 68 , p. 1146–1156–11 , 2002
International Standard Numbers
Printed : 0099-2240
Electronic : 1098-5336
Publication type : Academic article
Issue : 3
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There is a clear need for new approaches in the field of microbial community analyses, since the methods used can be severely biased. We have developed a DNA array-based method that targets16S ribosomal DNA (rDNA), enabling the direct detection and quantification of microorganisms from complex communities,without cultivation. The approach is based on the construction of specific probes from the 16S rDNA sequence data retrieved directly from the communities. The specificity of the assay is obtained through a combination of DNA array hybridization and enzymatic labeling of the constructed probes. Cultivation-dependent assays (enrichment and plating) and cultivation-independent assays (direct fluorescence microscopy and scanning electron microscopy) were used as reference methods in the development and evaluation of the method. The description of microbial communities in ready-to-eat vegetable salads in a modified atmosphere was used as the experimental model. Comparisons were made with respect to the effect of storage at different temperatures for up to 12 days and with respect to the geographic origin of the crisphead lettuce (Spanish or Norwegian), the main salad component. The conclusion drawn from the method comparison was that theDNA array-based method gave an accurate description of the microbial communities. Pseudomonas spp. dominated both of the salad batches, containing either Norwegian or Spanish lettuce, before storage and after storage at 4degreesC. The Pseudomonas population also dominated the batch containing Norwegian lettuce after storage at 10degreesC. On the contrary, Enterobacteriaceae and lactic acid bacteria dominated the microbial community of the batch containing Spanish lettuce after storage at 10degreesC. In that batch, the Enterobacteriaceae also were abundant after storage at 4degreesC as well as before storage. The practical implications of these results are that microbial communities in ready-to-eat vegetable salads can be diverse and that microbial composition is dependent both on the origin of the raw material and on the storage conditions.