ATP Test Systems for the Rapid Detection of Microbial Contaminants

ATP test systems have effectively replaced conventional culture procedures in many situations and are saving laboratory technicians’ time, while also increasing the efficiency of screening various materials for evidence of bacterial contamination. ATP stands for Adenosine Triphosphate, a molecule that acts as the means to transport the energy required for the various metabolic processes that occur within the living cells of both animals and plants. In addition to other mechanisms, it is produced by cellular respiration and photosynthesis respectively. As such, when it is chemically detected, the presence of this molecule is an infallible indicator of life and one that is already playing a role in the search for life in other parts of our solar system.

Closer to home, however, the use of ATP test systems has a number of more immediate, practical applications. Firstly, the continued production of this molecule is evidence of the viability of a culture and so tests for its presence are widely applied to the evaluation of yeast and other microbial preparations upon which the efficiency of certain fermentation processes may be dependent. This is a finding that could be of particular importance to pharmaceutical companies, to breweries and winemakers and to those involved in the creation of synthetic fuels from organic sources all of which make extensive use of fermentation.

In addition to the detection of the chemical in these situations where healthy growth is actually a prime requirement, ATP test systems may also be used to detect precisely the same substance in applications where it could provide evidence of a contaminant that should be precluded. In the case of foodstuffs or drinking water, depending upon the organism in question, the failure to detect its presence could result in a serious health hazard to the producer’s consumers.

The detection of adenosine triphosphate makes use of a very simple principle. In the presence luciferase, an enzyme isolated from the firefly, the molecule will react to produce light thus confirming its presence qualitatively. For quantitative measurement the actually intensity may be measured using the luminometer that may be supplied as a part of these ATP test systems.

The prevailing circumstances under which testing must be performed could involve the use differing reagents. This, for instance, would apply to the purification of wastewater and industrial waste where certain of their contents could interfere with assay attempts. It may also prove necessary to differentiate between the molecule present in living cells and that released into the surrounding material as a result of their death or disruption. Furthermore, since those performing the tests are also a source of cellular material, very precaution must be taken to prevent the accidental introduction of their cells into samples that could lead to false positives.

Efficient ATP test systems for use in a wide range of applications are available in South Africa from IEPSA and are sourced from Neogen Europe, an acknowledged leader in the field of food safety and sanitation monitoring. Among its products is the AccuPoint 2 sanitation monitoring system that makes use of the luciferase reaction to measure the cleanliness of surfaces and liquids with which various foodstuffs may come into contact during their preparation.

IEPSA provides full technical support for all users of our ATP test systems.

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