because time is of the essence when dealing with potentially deadly illnesses caused by E. coli, scientists at Penn State University and the USDA-Agricultural Research Service Eastern Regional Research Center in Pennsylvania are developing new tests to identify strains of the bacteria in “real time.” Microbiologists are hampered by current serotyping techniques that are time-consuming and labor-intensive.

These new tests feature both conventional and real-time polymerase chain reaction tests. That means answers and diagnoses can occur faster. In addition, this new test will help researchers better understand the potency and effects of these sometimes mysterious bacterial strains.

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e-mail Pina Fratamico at: pfratamico@errc.ars.usda.gov