Enumeration and characterization of bacteria in mineral water by improved direct viable count method

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Fifteen strains from two emergent mineral waters were isolated and tentatively identified with API 20NE and BIOLOG GN systems. These strains were screened for their sensitivities to seven replication-inhibiting antibiotics of the (fluoro)quinolone group (nalidixic and pipemidic acid, flumequine, norfloxacin, ofloxacin, pefloxacin and ciprofloxacin). It was shown that the direct viable count (DVC) procedure could be improved by using certain antibiotic cocktails, which were active against the isolates. Geometric bacterial features were successfully determined with image analysis and adapted software (ICONIX, Perfect Image™). Elongations were significant and allowed rapid discrimination of antibiotic inhibited and non-inhibited strains. Particular isolates in a mixed culture were characterized and enumerated after only 14 h exposure with the appropriate antibiotic cocktail. This method can also be applied to other communities, such as mixed cultures in bio-fermentors or in food with known microflora.

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