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Applications of polymerase chain reaction in the dairy industry

Authors: Sarah K. McLean, Louise A. Dunn and Enzo A. Palombo


Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) can be used in the identification of bacterial pathogens in dairy products, as well as in the genotyping of bacterial microbiota. Conventional PCR has been used in dairy microbiology to amplify specific genetic targets to identify pathogens including Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella enterica, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli O157:H7, and has been found to be a more sensitive and rapid technique compared to culture-based methods. Furthermore, PCR-based fingerprinting methods have been increasingly investigated as a more rapid tool than the current gold standard, pulse-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), for genotyping foodborne pathogens and microbiota. In this paper, two case studies are also described that illustrate how one such technique, enterobacterial repetitive intergenic consensus (ERIC)-PCR has been used to determine the genetic diversity of E. coli isolated from contaminated dairy products.

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