Spectral imaging of Microbes (HyperMicroMacro project)

Keywords: bacteria, spores, biofilm, MALDI-TOF, chemometrics, darkfield, hyperspectral, infrared, Raman

Description:

Recent developments in hardware have made it possible to obtain macroscopic HSI data using rapid, low cost hand-held systems which have the potential to vastly improve the food industry’s ability to rapidly identify contamination along the processing chain. However, this potential is hampered by two key challenges. Firstly, there is a lack of knowledge of the underlying biochemical reactions resulting in changes in spectra of contaminated foods that occur at the macroscopic level. This makes it difficult to separate changes in the spectra due to natural senescence from those due to microbial growth. Secondly, there is no existing methodology to link microscopic, mesoscopic and macroscopic HSI of bacterial colonies.

HyperMicroMacro addresses critical gaps in our knowledge of food safety by developing new understanding of the growth and persistence of bacteria, spores and biofilms on surfaces using hyperspectral imaging at multiple spatial scales (from microscopic to macroscopic) and spectral modalities (e.g. Raman, IR and Fluorescence) combined with microbial characterisation and high throughput sequencing. This approach will provide new insights on the persistence of food related microorganisms and their behaviour on foods and other surfaces. Co-PI Dr. Amalia Scannell leads project workpackages in microbial growth and identification using conventional and next generation methods.

This project is funded Science Foundation Ireland under the SFI Investigators Programme.