Novel Methods and Devices for Bacteriophage Detection

Tech ID: 24400 / UC Case 2014-571-0


UC Davis researchers have developed a rapid and highly sensitive method for detecting bacteriophage contamination and a portable device to carry out the method. The invention is suitable for detection of low levels of phage contamination in food and bioprocessing industry starter cultures and diverse raw materials.

Full Description

Currently, phage contamination is a major problem in the fermentation industry. The presence of phages in starter culture or raw materials can reduce efficiency, affect the quality of the product, or cause complete loss of the product. Despite industry practices to eliminate phage infection, this problem continues to affect the industry. Early and rapid detection of phage infection using simple to use and portable devices in an industrial set-up is the best method to prevent losses of efficiency and product.

Current methods of early phage detection such as plaque assays, PCR, and flow cytometry are limited in their utility in industrial set-ups. Assays require extended period of time for incubation before phage are at high enough levels to be detected. PCR cannot distinguish between viable and non-viable phage, and only known species of phages can be detected. Flow cytometry is expensive and requires skilled technicians to properly gate the events and analyze the data.

Researchers at the University of California have overcome these problems and invented novel methods and accompanying devices that detect phage infection in bacterial cultures. The researchers are able to detect bacteriophage with a sensitivity of about 102 PFU/mL by using a simple device in less than one hour. The methodology also has a wide dynamic range between 102 PFU/ml to 108 PFU/ml. This simple and accurate method will lead to increased yields while decreasing losses of time and capital.


  • Phage detection in the dairy industry
  • Phage detection in the biomanufacturing industry
  • Phage detection in the brewing industry
  • Phage detection in the biofuel industry


  • Increased sensitivity compared to industry standards
  • Ease of use means non-skilled operators can operate these simple to use and portable devices
  • Only detects viable phage contaminations, eliminating false positives
  • Can detect known and novel phage contaminations, providing increased accuracy
  • Enables rapid selection and rotation of cultures for successful fermentation processes

Patent Status

Country Type Number Dated Case
United States Of America Published Application 20170268031 09/21/2017 2014-571
Patent Cooperation Treaty Published Application 2016018678 02/04/2016 2014-571


Learn About UC TechAlerts - Save Searches and receive new technology matches


  • Nitin, Nitin
  • Wang, Min S.

Other Information


bacteriophage contamination, food contamination, dairy contamination, bacteriophage detection, portable, bioprocessing, quality, phage

Categorized As