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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2005 Apr;71(4):1856-64.

Development of an immunomagnetic bead-immunoliposome fluorescence assay for rapid detection of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in aqueous samples and comparison of the assay with a standard microbiological method.

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Department of Food Science and Technology, Cornell University, Geneva.


The objective of this study was to develop and optimize a protocol for the rapid detection of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in aqueous samples by a combined immunomagnetic bead-immunoliposome (IMB/IL) fluorescence assay. The protocol consisted of the filtration or centrifugation of 30- to 100-ml samples followed by incubation of the filter membranes or pellet with anti-E. coli O157:H7 immunomagnetic beads in growth medium specific for E. coli O157:H7. The resulting E. coli O157:H7-immunomagnetic bead complexes were isolated by magnetic separation, washed, and incubated with sulforhodamine B-containing immunoliposomes specific for E. coli O157:H7; the final immunomagnetic bead-E. coli O157:H7-immunoliposome complexes were again isolated by magnetic separation, washed, and lysed with a n-octyl-beta-d-glucopyranoside to release sulforhodamine B. The final protocol took less than 8 h to complete and had a detection limit of less than 1 CFU of E. coli O157:H7 per ml in various aqueous matrices, including apple juice and cider. To validate the protocol at an independent facility, 100-ml samples of groundwater with and without E. coli O157:H7 (15 CFU) were analyzed by a public health laboratory using the optimized protocol and a standard microbiological method. While the IMB/IL fluorescence assay was able to identify E. coli O157:H7-containing samples with 100% accuracy, the standard microbiological method was unable to distinguish E. coli O157:H7-spiked samples from negative controls without further extensive workup. These results demonstrate the feasibility of using immunomagnetic beads in combination with sulforhodamine B-encapsulating immunoliposomes for the rapid detection of E. coli O157:H7 in aqueous samples.

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