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Fungal identification From June 2010 newsletter

Fungal identification techniques

Recent research into the potential of commercial assays for fungal (yeast and mould) identification and characterisation will help in efforts to control fungal spoilage in foods and drinks.

Fungi are widespread in nature, and have been isolated from many food groups. Some strains are beneficial, for example in fermentation and flavour development, but others can result in food spoilage. In order to control fungal spoilage, it is essential that effective methods are available for the identification and characterisation of these organisms. This study looked at yeast and mould identification and fungal characterisation assays; both biochemical and molecular (genetic)–based techniques were considered.

The most important advance in this area has been the introduction of rapid techniques, including automated biochemical systems, DNA sequence–based identification, and genetic typing methods such as repetitive sequence–based polymerase chain reaction (rep–PCR).

Our findings suggest that commercial systems can deliver rapid identification results to industry to assist in troubleshooting in contamination issues. For some systems, this has been optimised to enable same–day results, particularly for yeast isolates. Another key point of interest is the benefit of using a combination of approaches in some cases. This project complements our work on persistent yeast and mould strains in food production environments and their control.

Contact: Suzanne Jordan
+44(0)1386 842013