Quantitative PCR: an appropriate tool to detect viable but not culturable Brettanomyces bruxellensis in wine.
Zygosaccharomyces bailii is a major food and beverage spoilage organism. Existing methods for its detection involve lengthy enrichment techniques and then the result does not always differentiate between Z. bailii and Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In this work, we developed a quantitative real-time PCR assay for the rapid detection of Z. bailii from fruit juices and wine even in the presence of non-target DNA. Primers were designed to the gene coding for the D1/D2 loop of the 26S ribosomal RNA subunit producing a single PCR product with a melting temperature of 83.5 degrees C. As few as 2 cells per ml could be detected by the assay in cranberry raspberry and apple juices and 22 cells per ml from grape juice. The assay was equally efficient in wine, detecting 6 cells per ml even in the presence of 10(7)S. cerevisiae cells. The CFU/ml as determined by plating on YM media showed excellent correlation with the CFU/ml established by the QPCR assay for all the beverages examined. Unknown samples of Z. bailii were prepared in the juices and wine and examined by QPCR. The QPCR estimated cell number was in good agreement with the cell counts obtained by plating, the exception being the cranberry raspberry juice sample. It was determined by live/dead cell counts that the Z. bailii cells were less viable in this juice thus leading to an overestimation of CFU/ml by QPCR. However, the correlation was high between QPCR and total cell count as determined by fluorescent microscopy. This assay provides a rapid and accurate method to establish the levels of the total Z. bailii population which consists of both viable and nonviable cells.