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S. diastaticus

Yamauchi et al. (1998)

Japan

Another molecular method, ribotyping, first appeared on the scene in 1988. As yet this is not a rapid method but one that aids identification of bacteria. Fundamentally, ribotyping revolves around the genetic fingerprinting of ribosomal RNA using the RFLP (restriction fragment length polymorphism) approach (see Section 4.2.6.1). Although ribotyping can be performed manually (Simpson & Priest, 1999), its application has been aided by its automation through Qualicon's RiboPrinter. This technology removes much of the human interface and, importantly, enables comparison and identification of the bacteria against a large and growing database. Although the capital cost of this equipment is substantial, ribotyping is increasingly available as a contract analysis. With the exception of a report on the characterisation of Pectinatus species (Motoyama et al., 1998), ribotyping in brewing microbiology has focused on the Lactobacillus (Funahashi et al., 1998; Storgards et al., 1998; Quain, 1999; Simpson & Priest, 1999).

Together with some of the newer phenotype-based approaches (see above), the use of ribotyping has been an important force in opening the eyes of microbiologists to the complexity of brewery microflora. As with brewing yeasts there is a vast armada of different strains of, say, L. brevis populating brewery environments. As noted by Quain (1999), 'the isolate of L. brevis found in the brewhouse was different to that found in stored water and both were distinct from that isolated from yeast'. This sobering and simple fact has often been lost in the race to detect and identify microorganisms.

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