An Italian biotech company has developed a novel family of DNA biomarkers which offers the ability to differentiate and identify phylogenetically closed bacterial species and subspecies from a sample. As the technology is built on the ability to accurately detect bacterial sub-types, the diagnostic kit is well-suited for food and agriculture applications, besides being used in diagnostic test kits.
There are several disadvantages associated with the traditional way of microbial identification. Despite their prevalence and widespread use, techniques such 16S rRNA sequencing, multilocus sequence typing (MLST) and Next-Gen Sequencing (NGS) are often found lacking in accuracy, ease of use and the economics concerned. For example, the 16S sequencing approach is unable to distinguish between closely-related species, an ability that becomes important during food quality inspection or during clinical diagnosis. Similarly, the MLST procedure can take a few days for the sequencing to be completed, making it unsuitable for fast turnaround requirements. A final concern that is common to all conventional sequencing approaches is that they become less accurate when analyzing samples that contain a mixture of different bacteria.
It is in this context that a bacterial DNA biomarker gains prominence. Developed by an Italian Biotech company, the highly selective and specific nature of the biomarkers makes it possible to tell apart and identify phylogenetically closed bacterial species and subspecies.
The new biomarker can differentiate and identify microorganisms through both sequence polymorphisms (also known as single nucleotide polymorphism or SNP) and length polymorphism (owing to insertions or deletions).
Unlike protein-coding genetic markers that are used as the basis of MLST and other sequencing approaches, this new approach using DNA markers have high sequence variability. This makes them able to identify closely-related species and to differentiate strains that usually group together.
This new DNA biomarker-based bacterial identification method will find application in the food and beverages sector. Using the test kit to detect contamination or the growth of bacterial cultures will greatly benefit the agro- and food-tech industries.
The same principle of bacterial detection and identification will also be of help in the healthcare industry. Point-of-care kits can leverage the biomarker platform to develop tests to detect bacterial diseases.
The food and analytical industry is in need of a quick and cost-effective microbial identification technology. This patented microbial detection technology using a family of novel DNA markers can be used to develop microbial diagnostic kits. In the food sector, this technology can be used to develop reliable and advanced methodologies to identify and monitor food contamination in real time. This is an attractive technology for the analytical sector as well.
The new markers family is a customizable, low-cost, high-throughput, and a multi-target platform. Consequently, this tool can be used for the identification and quantification of:
- Lactobacilli species and bifidobacteria that are commonly added in probiotic products
- Spore-forming bacilli species that are commonly used in agriculture as bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides
- Any other micro-organisms of interest for food or healthcare aplications