Poison DNA technology could revolutionize food testing

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 21st March 2012

Scientists from Cardiff in Wales have developed a device which can identify bacteria that causes food poisoning – using the chemical that lights up fireflies.

The scientists at Cardiff University, in Wales, have called their invention the ‘Bioluminescent Assay in Real-Time’ (BART) system. According to the scientists, the system allows users to test rapidly and simply for food poisoning bacteria.

The BART system detects specific DNA sequences by producing a light signal, using a version of the enzyme luciferase, which also produces light in fireflies. Samples are placed inside a simple device, which can then test for the DNA of common food pathogens. If present, the bacteria trigger the luciferase to produce light.

The device can produce results in ten minutes to an hour, depending on the number of organisms being tested for.

Professor Jim Murray of the university’s School of Biosciences said, “The food industry has been looking for dependable, fast and convenient microbiological testing for a long time.

“Our system will allow workers to test a wide variety of foods in a simple system which uses the most sensitive molecular technology. Portable versions of the device mean that it’s now even possible to test farm animals in the food chain,” he added.

“The BART system allows for quick and easy molecular testing which previously required complex laboratory hardware.”