A simple, miniaturized, and automated screening assay for the determination of total aerobic viable counts in fish samples is presented here. Fish tissue homogenates were prepared in peptone buffered water medium, according to standard method, and aliquots were dispensed into wells of a 96-well plate with the phosphorescent, oxygen-sensing probe GreenLight. Sample wells were covered with mineral oil (barrier for ambient oxygen), and the plate was monitored on a standard fluorescent reader at 30°C. The samples produced characteristic profiles, with a sharp increase in fluorescence above the baseline level at a certain threshold time, which could be correlated with initial microbial load. Five different fish species were analyzed: salmon, cod, plaice, mackerel, and whiting. Using a conventional agar plating method, the relationship between the threshold time and total aerobic viable counts load (in CFU per gram) was established, calibration curve generated, and the test was validated with 169 unknown fish samples. It showed a dynamic range of 10(4) to 10(7) CFU/g, accuracy of ± 1 log(CFU/g), assay time of 2 to 12 h (depending on the level of contamination), ruggedness with respect to the key assay parameters, simplicity (three pipetting steps, no serial dilutions), real-time data output, high sample throughput, and automation. With this test, quality of fish samples, CFU-per-gram levels, and their respective time profiles were determined.
University College Cork ->