Learning Microbiology

Ralf Hartemink ngw at teleoffice.nl
Thu Aug 22 04:27:53 EST 1996

raym at RMOORE.COM (Ray Moore) wrote:
>I am attempting to teach myself microbiology - at least to the
>level where I can make and understand the results of tests on
>milk and cheese products.  I am in the process of becoming licensed
>to manufacture these products.
>I have progressed through all the micro-organisms described in three
>books that are all beginning survey texts in microbiology.  One is
>oriented toward preparing people studying in the health professions.
>The others or more directed toward public health and the like.
>I would appreciate if members of this list can help me with the
>following questions:
>1.  Is it possible to absolutely identify micro-organisms with any
>light microscope?

That is an easy one : NO
Of course, if you know you have only two species in your mixture, one 
coccus and one rod, you can easily distinguish them. If you have an 
unkown mixture, you can sometimes identify to group or family level, but 
hardly ever to species level.

>2.  Are any of the electron microscopes available used or
>new that are priced low enough for an individuals pocketbook? 

I don't think so.

>3.  Are there other instruments available that provide enough information,
>visual, or otherwise, to completely identify organisms?

The are several test systems available for lactic acid bacteria, f.e. 
Minitek, API and others. These are relatively inexpensive. Contact your 
nearest Food Inspection Service (or similar institution) for adresses 

>4.  What kind of broth and stains do I need to get started in developing
>some lab technique?  I have an analytic balance, will it be useful?

Depending on which bacteria you need to identify. For lactic acid 
bacteria you need several broths, f.e. MRS and M17 broths (available from 
Difco, Oxoid, Merck), a lot of glassware, Petri dishes, an autoclave, 
pipets and other basic laboratory equipment. An analytical balance is not 
of much use.

>6.  Am I headed completely in the wrong direction here?

kind of.

>Ray Moore
>ray at rmoore.com
Ralf Hartemink
Dept Food Microbiology
Wageningen Agricultural University
The Netherlands

More information about the Microbio mailing list