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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Monitoring of Antimicrobial Resistance in Food Animal Production

Location: Bacterial Epidemiology and Antimicrobial Resistance

Title: The microbial world: can we really culture what we cannot see?

Author
item Cray, Paula

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: February 8, 2012
Publication Date: February 15, 2012
Citation: Cray, P.J. 2012. The microbial world: can we really culture what we cannot see [abstract]? Global Food Safety Conference 2012. February 15-17, 2012, Orlando, Florida.

Technical Abstract: The existence of microorganisms was postulated as early as the 6th century BC. In 1675 using a microscope he designed, Antonj van Leewenoek described his ‘animalcules’ which confirmed the presence of life forms which were not visible to the naked eye. Subsequent observations by Spallanzani that boiling killed microorganisms and expansion on the theory by Pasteur ended support for spontaneous generation and led to the adoption of the germ theory. Nevertheless, it is the cultivation of microorganisms that has advanced the field of microbiology. Initially simple broths of urine and meat extracts were used by Pasteur to recover bacteria. Robert Koch, in addition to his many contributions, realized the importance of solid media for the cultivation of microorganisms which led to the use of agar in plating media. While microbiologists have spent centuries developing different types of solid and liquid media specific for the recovery of microorganisms, we cannot always ensure the culture and recovery of every microorganism. Through use of molecular techniques we have a better appreciation that the ecosystem is teeming with microorganisms which have yet to be cultured. However, recovery of a live organism is necessary for the study of microbial interactions and the development of intervention strategies. This presentation discusses the challenges associated with culturing microorganisms and illustrates the need to understand the different observations that may occur when multiple culture methods are used to recover the same bacterial population.

Last Modified: 10/1/2014
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