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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2012 Oct;78(19):7090-7. doi: 10.1128/AEM.01817-12. Epub 2012 Aug 3.

Genotyping of present-day and historical Geobacillus species isolates from milk powders by high-resolution melt analysis of multiple variable-number tandem-repeat loci.

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School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia Campus, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.


Spores of thermophilic Geobacillus species are a common contaminant of milk powder worldwide due to their ability to form biofilms within processing plants. Genotyping methods can provide information regarding the source and monitoring of contamination. A new genotyping method was developed based on multilocus variable-number tandem-repeat (VNTR) analysis (MLVA) in conjunction with high-resolution melt analysis (MLV-HRMA) and compared to the currently used method, randomized amplified polymorphic DNA PCR (RAPD-PCR). Four VNTR loci were identified and used to genotype 46 Geobacillus isolates obtained from retailed powder and samples from 2 different milk powder processing plants. These 46 isolates were differentiated into 16 different groups using MLV-HRMA (D = 0.89). In contrast, only 13 RAPD-PCR genotypes were identified among the 46 isolates (D = 0.79). This new method was then used to analyze 35 isolates obtained from powders with high spore counts (>10(4) spores ยท g(-1)) from a single processing plant together with 27 historical isolates obtained from powder samples processed in the same region of Australia 17 years ago. Results showed that three genotypes can coexist in a single processing run, while the same genotypes observed 17 years ago are present today. While certain genotypes could be responsible for powders with high spore counts, there was no correlation to specific genotypes being present in powder plants and retailed samples. In conclusion, the MLV-HRMA method is useful for genotyping Geobacillus spp. to provide insight into the prevalence and persistence of certain genotypes within milk powder processing plants.

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