(19)
(11)EP 3 289 061 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
22.05.2019 Bulletin 2019/21

(21)Application number: 16724158.7

(22)Date of filing:  26.04.2016
(51)Int. Cl.: 
C12M 1/12  (2006.01)
C12M 1/34  (2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/US2016/029309
(87)International publication number:
WO 2016/176178 (03.11.2016 Gazette  2016/44)

(54)

THIN FILM CULTURE DEVICE WITH CARBON DIOXIDE GENERANT

DÜNNSCHICHT-KULTURVORRICHTUNG MIT KOHLENDIOXIDGENERATOR

DISPOSITIF DE CULTURE À FILM MINCE COMPRENANT UN AGENT GÉNÉRANT DU DIOXYDE DE CARBONE


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 29.04.2015 US 201562154303 P

(43)Date of publication of application:
07.03.2018 Bulletin 2018/10

(73)Proprietor: 3M Innovative Properties Company
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55133-3427 (US)

(72)Inventors:
  • BJORK, Jason W.
    Saint Paul, Minnesota 55133-3427 (US)
  • BRUTINEL, Evan D.
    Saint Paul, Minnesota 55133-3427 (US)
  • STANENAS, Adam J.
    Saint Paul, Minnesota 55133-3427 (US)

(74)Representative: Herzog, Fiesser & Partner Patentanwälte PartG mbB 
Isartorplatz 1
80331 München
80331 München (DE)


(56)References cited: : 
WO-A1-96/38533
US-A- 4 605 617
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description

    BACKGROUND



    [0001] The growth of capnophilic bacteria is facilitated by high concentrations of carbon dioxide. These microorganisms may be selectively enriched by culturing samples comprising mixed bacteria in high-CO2 environments.

    [0002] Campylobacter is a genus of capnophilic bacteria. Certain species of Campylobacter are associated with food-borne illnesses. These microorganisms are now recognized to be the leading cause of bacterial gastroenteritis worldwide. Traditional techniques for culturing Campylobacter require incubation in a microaerobic environment. Gas-generating kits may not be adequate in methods of culturing Campylobacter because i) the bacteria are exposed to atmospheric oxygen for extended periods of time and ii) the kits eventually remove all of the oxygen, thereby inhibiting growth of the microaerophilic Campylobacter microorganisms.

    [0003] There remains a need for improved culture devices and methods for culturing capnophilic microorganisms in general and for culturing Campylobacter species in particular.

    SUMMARY



    [0004] In general, the present disclosure relates to detection and optional enumeration of microorganisms in a sample. In particular, the present disclosure relates to growth and detection of capnophilic microorganisms. In addition to being capnophilic, the microorganisms also may be microaerotolerant, microaerophilic, or obligately-anaerobic with respect to their oxygen requirements. It is now known that growth and detection of these microorganisms can be conducted using a self-contained modified environment-generating culture device. The modified environment-generating device is activated by inoculation with an aqueous liquid (e.g., a sample diluted in an aqueous liquid) to produce an aqueous growth medium that has an increased concentration of dissolved carbon dioxide and, optionally, a reduced concentration of dissolved oxygen.

    [0005] The inventive culture device and methods disclosed herein provide for growth, detection, and differentiation of capnophilic microorganisms even while incubating the microorganisms in oxygen-containing (e.g., normal atmospheric oxygen-containing) environments. Advantageously, this eliminates the need for specialized incubation equipment and reagents (e.g., candle jars, anaerobe jars, single-use chemical sachets, palladium catalysts, modified-atmosphere (e.g., anaerobic) glove boxes) that are typically required to culture capnophilic microorganisms. Furthermore, the disclosure relates to the enumeration of capnophilic microorganisms that are also microaerotolerant, microaerotolerant, or obligately-anaerobic. Microaerophilic and obligately-anaerobic microorganisms share the common feature that they require reduced-oxygen environments in which to grow and reproduce.

    [0006] In one aspect, the present disclosure provides a culture device for enumerating colonies of microorganisms. The device can comprise a base having opposing inner and outer surfaces, a coversheet having opposing inner and outer surfaces, a spacer member disposed between the base and the cover sheet, an effective amount of a dry carbon dioxide-generating reagent, and a dry, cold-water-soluble gelling agent. The coversheet can be coupled to the base or the spacer member. The spacer member can be coupled to the base and/or the coversheet. The spacer member comprises an aperture that defines a shape and a depth of a growth compartment. The growth compartment is disposed between the inner surface of the base and the inner surface of the coversheet. A first adhesive layer can be adhered to the base in the growth compartment or a second adhesive layer can be adhered to the coversheet in the growth compartment. The carbon dioxide-generating reagent can be disposed in the growth compartment adhered to the first adhesive layer or the second adhesive layer. The gelling agent can be adhered to the base or the coversheet in the growth compartment.

    [0007] In any of the above embodiments, the carbon dioxide-generating reagent can consist essentially of particles having a diameter of less than 106 microns. In any of the above embodiments, the device further comprising an effective amount of a dry oxygen-scavenging reagent adhered to the first adhesive layer or the second adhesive layer in the growth compartment, wherein the oxygen-scavenging reagent consists essentially of particles having a diameter of less than 106 microns. In any of the above embodiments, the spacer member can be nonporous. In any of the above embodiments, the device further can comprise a dry buffer reagent, a dry nutrient, an indicator reagent, a selective agent, or a reducing agent adhered to the first adhesive layer or the second adhesive layer. In any of the above embodiments, the carbon dioxide-generating reagent can comprise a metal carbonate. In any of the above embodiments, the oxygen-scavenging reagent can be disposed in the growth compartment in a quantity of about 1.5 micromoles/10 cm2 surface area of the base or the coversheet in the growth compartment to about 15 micromoles/10 cm2 surface area of the base or the coversheet in the growth compartment.

    [0008] In another aspect, the present disclosure provides a method of detecting a capnophilic microorganism in a sample. The method can comprise placing the culture device of any one of the above embodiments into an open configuration that provides access to the growth compartment therein, placing a predefined volume of aqueous liquid into the growth compartment, placing a sample into the growth compartment, closing the culture device, incubating the culture device for a period of time sufficient to permit formation of a microbial colony in the culture medium, and detecting the microbial colony. Placing the aqueous liquid and the sample into the growth compartment and closing the culture device can comprise forming a semi-solid microbial culture medium enclosed in the growth compartment by the base, the coversheet, and the spacer member of the culture device.

    [0009] In any of the above embodiments of the method, closing the culture device can comprise leaving an open fluid pathway from a gaseous environment outside the culture device to the semisolid microbial culture medium enclosed in the growth compartment. In any of the above embodiments of the method, after incubating the culture device, detecting the microbial colony further can comprise enumerating one or more optically-detectable colonies in the culture device.

    [0010] The words "preferred" and "preferably" refer to embodiments of the invention that may afford certain benefits, under certain circumstances. However, other embodiments may also be preferred, under the same or other circumstances. Furthermore, the recitation of one or more preferred embodiments does not imply that other embodiments are not useful, and is not intended to exclude other embodiments from the scope of the invention.

    [0011] The terms "comprises" and variations thereof do not have a limiting meaning where these terms appear in the description and claims.

    [0012] As used herein, "a," "an," "the," "at least one," and "one or more" are used interchangeably. Thus, for example, a nutrient can be interpreted to mean "one or more" nutrients.

    [0013] The term "and/or" means one or all of the listed elements or a combination of any two or more of the listed elements.

    [0014] Also herein, the recitations of numerical ranges by endpoints include all numbers subsumed within that range (e.g., 1 to 5 includes 1, 1.5, 2, 2.75, 3, 3.80, 4, 5, etc.).

    [0015] The above summary of the present invention is not intended to describe each disclosed embodiment or every implementation of the present invention. The description that follows more particularly exemplifies illustrative embodiments. In several places throughout the application, guidance is provided through lists of examples, which examples can be used in various combinations. In each instance, the recited list serves only as a representative group and should not be interpreted as an exclusive list.

    [0016] Additional details of these and other embodiments are set forth in the accompanying drawings and the description below. Other features, objects and advantages will become apparent from the description and drawings, and from the claims.

    BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS



    [0017] 

    FIG. 1 is a plan view of one embodiment of a culture device according to the present disclosure.

    FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional side view, along line 2-2, of the culture device of FIG. 1.

    FIG. 3 is an exploded side view of the culture device of FIG. 1.


    DETAILED DESCRIPTION



    [0018] Before any embodiments of the present disclosure are explained in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction and the arrangement of components set forth in the following description or illustrated in the following drawings. The invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced or of being carried out in various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology used herein is for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting. The use of "including," "comprising," or "having" and variations thereof herein is meant to encompass the items listed thereafter and equivalents thereof as well as additional items. Unless specified or limited otherwise, the terms "connected" and "coupled" and variations thereof are used broadly and encompass both direct and indirect connections and couplings. Further, "connected" and "coupled" are not restricted to physical or mechanical connections or couplings. It is to be understood that other embodiments may be utilized and structural or logical changes may be made without departing from the scope of the present disclosure. Furthermore, terms such as "front," "rear," "top," "bottom," and the like are only used to describe elements as they relate to one another, but are in no way meant to recite specific orientations of the apparatus, to indicate or imply necessary or required orientations of the apparatus, or to specify how the invention described herein will be used, mounted, displayed, or positioned in use.

    [0019] The term "microorganism" or "microbe" as used herein refers to any microscopic organism, which may be a single cell or multicellular organism. The term is generally used to refer to any prokaryotic or eukaryotic microscopic organism capable of growing and reproducing in a suitable culture medium, including without limitation, one or more of bacteria. Microorganisms encompassed by the scope of the present invention include prokaryotes, namely the bacteria and archaea; and various forms of eukaryotes, comprising the protozoa, fungi, yeast (e.g., anaerobic yeast), algae etc. The term "target microorganism" refers any microorganism that is desired to be detected.

    [0020] The terms "CO2-enriched", "enriched CO2", "elevated concentration of carbon dioxide", and the like; as they relate to a particular aqueous environment (e.g., a hydrogel) that comprises a carbon-dioxide-generating reagent; refer to a state wherein the aqueous environment has a concentration of dissolved oxygen that is substantially higher (e.g., greater than 2-fold higher, greater than 3-fold higher, greater than 4-fold higher, greater than 5-fold higher, or greater than 10-fold higher) at ambient temperature and pressure than an otherwise identical aqueous environment that lacks the carbon-dioxide-generating reagent.

    [0021] The term "anaerobic microorganism" or "anaerobe" as used herein refers to microorganisms which are sensitive to oxygen and will not grow in the presence of oxygen. An anaerobic microorganism or anaerobe is any organism that does not require oxygen for growth. Anaerobic microorganisms include both obligate anaerobes and facultative anaerobes. Obligate anaerobes are those microorganisms which will die when exposed to atmospheric levels of oxygen. A facultative anaerobe is an organism that can carry out aerobic respiration if oxygen is present, but is capable of switching to fermentation or anaerobic respiration if oxygen is absent. Methods and systems of the present invention could be used for the enrichment and detection of both obligate anaerobes and facultative anaerobes.

    [0022] The term "microaerophilic microorganism" or "microaerophiles" is used herein to refer to any microorganism which grows only in the presence of micro quantities of oxygen. Microaerophiles use oxygen, but only at very low concentrations (low micromolar range), typically oxygen concentration levels of 5-15% with growth inhibited by normal oxygen concentrations or concentrations greater than about 15%.

    [0023] The term "culture" or "growth" of microorganisms as used herein refers to the method of multiplying microbial organisms by letting them reproduce in predetermined culture media under conditions conducive for their growth. More particularly it is the method of providing a suitable culture medium and conditions to facilitate at least one cell division of a microorganism. Culture media are solid, semisolid or liquid media containing all of the nutrients and necessary physical growth parameters necessary for microbial growth.

    [0024] The term "enrichment" as used herein refers to the culture method of selectively enriching the growth of a specific microorganism by providing medium and conditions with specific and known attributes that favors the growth of that particular microorganism. The enrichment culture's environment will positively influence the growth of a selected microorganism and/or negatively influence the growth of other microorganisms.

    [0025] "Oxygen scavenging reagent" and "oxygen scavenger" will be used broadly herein to refer to a compound that can consume, deplete or react with oxygen from a given environment. Preferably, the oxygen scavenging reagent does not slow or inhibit growth of anaerobic microorganisms.

    [0026] The term "reducing agent" refers to a substance that is capable of lowering the Eh potential of the semisolid culture medium formed by hydration of the dry components in the growth compartment of a device of the present disclosure.

    [0027] The present disclosure generally relates to articles and methods for growing capnophilic bacteria. Optionally, the capnophilic bacteria may also be anaerobic or microaerophilic. In particular, the present disclosure provides a device for culturing microorganisms (e.g., microorganisms of the genus Campylobacter) whose growth requires, or is enhanced by, elevated concentrations of carbon dioxide. The device comprises an effective amount of a carbon dioxide-generating reagent. Advantageously, the inventive device is highly stable (e.g., at ambient temperatures) and obviates the need for specialized equipment and/or compressed gases in order to achieve and maintain a CO2-enriched environment for culturing capnophilic microorganisms. In addition, the device is capable of creating a liquid environment that facilitates growth of an anaerobic or a microaerophilic microorganism after the device is hydrated (e.g., hydrated with an aqueous sample).

    [0028] The present disclosure generally relates to detection and, optionally, enumeration of microorganisms in a sample. In particular, the present disclosure relates to growth and detection of a diverse group of capnophilic microorganisms. The diverse group includes, for example, species of the genera Campylobacter, Haemophilus, and Neisseria. It is now known that growth and detection of capnophilic microorganisms can be conducted using a self-contained enriched CO2 environment-generating culture device.

    [0029] Optionally, a device of the present disclosure further can generate a reduced-oxygen environment in situ. Thus, anaerobic and facultatively-anaerobic microorganisms can be selectively-enriched over strictly-aerobic microorganisms by cultivating them in a reduced-oxygen or anaerobic environment in a device of the present disclosure. A device of the present disclosure advantageously can be used to selectively enrich capnophilic microorganisms, as well as facultatively-anaerobic and obligately-anaerobic microorganisms present in a sample that also contains strictly-aerobic microorganisms.

    [0030] It is now known that a dry, rehydratable self-contained enriched-CO2 environment-generating culture devices can be made. The culture device comprises an effective amount of a substantially-dry carbon dioxide-generating reagent disposed in a growth compartment of the culture device. The device is capable of rehydration with a predetermined volume of aqueous solution wherein, upon rehydration, the carbon dioxide-generating reagent is capable of participating in a reaction that elevates the CO2 concentration in the aqueous medium in the device. Moreover, the culture device can be held in an aerobic environment wherein the culture device can maintain a CO2-enriched environment for a period of time sufficient to facilitate growth of capnophilic microorganisms.

    [0031] Bacterial species of interest can be analyzed in a test sample that may be derived from any source, such as a physiological fluid, e.g., blood, saliva, ocular lens fluid, synovial fluid, cerebral spinal fluid, pus, sweat, exudate, urine, mucus, mucosal tissue (e.g., buccal, gingival, nasal, ocular, tracheal, bronchial, gastrointestinal, rectal, urethral, ureteral, vaginal, cervical, and uterine mucosal membranes), lactation milk, feces or the like. Further, the test sample may be derived from a body site, e.g., wound, skin, anterior nares, nasopharyngeal cavity, nasal cavities, anterior nasal vestibule, scalp, nails, outer ear, middle ear, mouth, rectum, vagina, axilla, perineum, anus, or other similar site.

    [0032] Besides physiological fluids, other test samples may include other liquids as well as solid(s) dissolved or suspended in a liquid medium. Samples of interest may include process streams, water, food, food ingredients, beverages, soil, plants or other vegetation, air, surfaces (e.g., walls, floors, equipment, utensils in a manufacturing plant, hospital, clinic, or home, for example), and the like.

    [0033] Non-limiting examples of bacteria that require (i.e., microaerophilic bacteria) and/or tolerate (i.e., aerotolerant bacteria) reduced-oxygen tension environments in which to grow include Helicobacter pylori, Campylobacter species (e.g., C. jejuni, C. coli, C. fetus), Streptococcus intermedius, Streptococcus sanguis, Streptococcus constellatus, Gemella morbillorum, Lactobacillus species, and Streptococcus pyogenes.

    [0034] Anaerobic bacteria are ubiquitous in nature. The anaerobic bacteria can be obligately-anaerobic or, alternatively can be facultatively-anaerobic. Nonlimiting examples of obligately-anaerobic bacteria include sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB; such as Desulfovibrio spp. and Desulfotomaculum spp., for example), acid-producing bacteria (APB; such as as Acetobacterium, Pediococcus, Proteiniphilum, Lactobacillus, Staphylococcus, Thermococcoides, and Acinetobacter, for example), Actinomyces species, Clostridium species (e.g., C. perfringens, C. tetani, C sporogenes, C. botulinum, C. difficile, C. butyricum, C. acetobutylicum), lactic-acid bacteria (e.g., Lactobacillus species, Leuconostoc species, Pediococcus species, Lactococcus species), Bacteroides species (e.g., B fragilis), and Peptostreptococcus species (e.g., P micros, P. magnus, P. asaccharolyticus, P. anaerobius, and P. tetradius). Nonlimiting examples of facultatively-anaerobic bacteria include Enterobacteria (e.g., E. coli, Salmonella species, Citrobacter freundii, Staphylococcus aureus, and Listeria species (e.g., L. monocytogenes).

    [0035] Because many yeast species are facultatively-anaerobic and some yeast species are obligately anaerobic, it is also contemplated that the self-contained anaerobic environment-generating culture device of the present disclosure is useful for growth and detection of yeast microorganisms.

    [0036] In one aspect, the present disclosure provides a culture device for culturing and detecting a microorganism that grows in CO2-enriched environments. With reference to FIGS. 1-3, a culture device 100 of the present disclosure comprises a waterproof base 10, a waterproof coversheet 20, and a spacer member 30 disposed between the base 10 and coversheet 20. The base 10 has an inner surface 10b and an outer surface 10a opposite the inner surface. The coversheet 20 has an inner surface 20b and an outer surface 20a opposite the inner surface. In any embodiment, the inner surface 10a of the base 10 is disposed in facing relationship with the inner surface 20b of the coversheet 20.

    [0037] Base 10 is preferably a relatively stiff waterproof film made of a material (e.g., polyester, polypropylene, or polystyrene) that will not absorb or otherwise be adversely affected by water. Base 10 preferably is made using a material that is substantially nontransmissible to gaseous oxygen. Nonlimiting examples of suitable materials for base 10 include polyester films at least about 15 µm to at least about 180 µm thick, polypropylene films at least about 100 µm to at least about 200 µm thick and polystyrene films at least about 300 µm to about 380 µm thick. Other suitable bases include ethylene vinyl alcohol copolymer films, polyvinyl alcohol films, and polyvinylidene chloride films. Base 10 can be transparent if one wishes to view colonies through the base.

    [0038] The coversheet 20 is used to cover the inner surface 10b of the base 10, to define the growth compartment 60 and, optionally, to view the growth compartment during shipping, storage, incubation, and/or colony counting. Coversheet 20 is preferably a relatively stiff waterproof film made of a material (e.g., polyester, polypropylene, or polystyrene) that will not absorb or otherwise be adversely affected by water. Coversheets 20 are preferably transparent in order to facilitate the counting of colonies without opening the culture device 10, and are substantially impermeable to microorganisms and water vapor.

    [0039] Generally, coversheets can be made of materials such as those used to make base 10. Coversheet 20 preferably is made using a material that is substantially nontransmissible to gaseous oxygen. Nonlimiting examples of suitable materials for base 10 include polyester films at least about 15 µm to at least about 180 µm thick, polypropylene films at least about 100 µm to at least about 200 µm thick and polystyrene films at least about 300 µm to about 380 µm thick. Other suitable bases include ethylene vinyl alcohol copolymer films, polyvinyl alcohol films, and polyvinylidene chloride films. As shown in FIG. 1, the coversheet 20 can be attached in a hinge-like fashion (e.g., using double-sided adhesive tape) along one edge of the inner surfaces of each of the base 10 and coversheet 20 to form a hinge region 70. Optionally, in any embodiment, the coversheet 20 may comprise a tab region 75 that extends beyond the base 10. The tab region 75 can be conveniently grasped when opening the device 100 to inoculate the growth compartment 60 with a sample.

    [0040] A person having ordinary skill in the art will recognize the transmissibility of gas (e.g., carbon dioxide, oxygen) through a given type of polymer film typically can be reduced by increasing the thickness of the polymer film. In any embodiment, the base and coversheet of the present disclosure are polymeric films having a suitable thickness to be substantially nontransmissible to gaseous oxygen.

    [0041] The spacer member 30 includes an aperture 36. The aperture 36 forms a well that serves to both define a location and thickness of a growth compartment 60 of the culture device 100. The spacer member 30, along with the base 10 and the coversheet 20, define the boundaries of the growth compartment 60. The spacer member 30 helps to confine an aqueous sample (not shown) within the growth compartment 60 during inoculation of the culture device 100.

    [0042] The aperture 36 as illustrated in FIG. 1 defines a circular shape. However, it is contemplated the aperture 36 may define other shapes (e.g., square, rectangle, oval). The walls of the aperture 36 provide a well of predetermined size and shape and defines the thickness of the growth compartment 60 of the culture device 100.

    [0043] The spacer member 30 should be thick enough to form a well having a predetermined volume, e.g., 1 mL, 2 mL, 3 mL, 5 mL, or 10 mL, depending on the size of the growth compartment 60 and the size of sample to be placed in the culture device. In any embodiment, spacer member 30 is made of any porous or nonporous material that is hydrophobic (non-wetting), inert to microorganisms, and, optionally, sterilizable. In any embodiment, the spacer member 30 can be coupled (e.g., via a pressure-sensitive adhesive) directly to the base 10 or coversheet 20. Additionally or alternatively, the spacer member 30 can be coupled (e.g., via an adhesive tape 50) indirectly to the base or coversheet (e.g., the spacer member can be coupled to the first or second dry coating that is coated onto the base or coversheet, respectively).

    [0044] The growth compartment 60 can be at any accessible location in the culture device 100 between the base 10 and the coversheet 20. Preferably, the growth compartment 60 is located away from the peripheral edges 80 of the device 100.

    [0045] Preferably, the spacer member 30 is constructed of a nonporous material (e.g., a metal, glass, a polymeric resin) that does not substantially inhibit growth of microorganisms and does not substantially absorb water or macroscopic carbon dioxide bubbles from a hydrogel that is contacted with the spacer member. Nonlimiting examples of suitable materials from which a spacer member 30 can be made include polyolefins (e.g., polyethylene, polypropylene and the like), polyethylene terephthalate, polyurethane, polystyrene, polyvinylidene chloride, polymethyl methacrylate, polyvinylidene fluoride or other polymer films, for example.

    [0046] A device of the present disclosure comprises a dry, cold-water-soluble gelling agent disposed in the growth compartment. Preferably, the gelling agent is adhered, either directly or indirectly, to the base 10 and/or the coversheet 20 of the device 100. A nonlimiting example of indirect adherence of the gelling agent is a situation wherein the gelling agent is adhered to an adhesive layer that is adhered to the base or the coversheet, as discussed herein. In any embodiment, the gelling agent may be uniformly distributed onto the inner surface 10b of the base 10 and/or the inner surface 20b of the coversheet 20 in the growth compartment 60 of the device 100.

    [0047] Suitable gelling agents for use in the first dry coating 24 include cold-water-soluble natural and synthetic gelling agents. Natural gelling agents such as algin, carboxymethyl cellulose, tara gum, hydroxyethyl cellulose, guar gum, locust bean gum, xanthan gum, and synthetic gelling agents such as polyacrylamide, polyurethane, polyethylene oxides, and mixtures thereof are generally suitable. Appropriate gelling agents can be selected according to the teaching of this disclosure and the disclosures of U.S. Patent Nos. 4,565,783; 5,089,413; and 5,232,838. Preferred gelling agents include guar gum, locust bean gum, and xanthan gum; these gelling agents being useful individually, or preferably, in combination with one another.

    [0048] Thus, in any embodiment, a device 100 of the present disclosure optionally can comprise a first dry coating 14 adhered to at least a portion or all of the inner surface 10b of the base 10 in the growth compartment 60. The first dry coating 14, if present, may comprise the dry, cold-water-soluble gelling agent. Optionally, a first adhesive layer 12 is adhered to the base 10 and at least a portion of the first dry coating is adhered to the first adhesive layer in the growth compartment 60.

    [0049] The coversheet 20 can be free of any coating (not shown). Alternatively, if the device 100 does not have a first dry coating 14 adhered to the inner surface 10b of the base 10 in the growth compartment 60, the coversheet 20 may comprise a second dry coating 24 adhered thereto in the growth compartment. The second dry coating 24, if present, may comprise the dry, cold-water-soluble gelling agent. Optionally, a second adhesive layer 22 is adhered to the coversheet 20 and at least a portion of the second dry coating 24 is adhered to the second adhesive layer in the growth compartment 60. In any embodiment, a portion of the layer of second adhesive layer 22 may be used to facilitate sealing the coversheet 20 to at least a portion of the spacer member 30.

    [0050] As regards the first and second dry coatings, the coatings optionally can comprise any nutrient or nutrient medium that is cold-water-reconstitutable, that does not substantially interfere with the oxygen-scavenging reagent (discussed below) or the cold-water gelling properties of the gelling agent, and that supports growth of an anaerobic microorganism. The particular nutrient or nutrients suitable for use in the culture device will depend on the microorganism to be grown in the device, and will be easily selected by those skilled in the art. Generally, such nutrients are cold-water soluble. Suitable nutrients for supporting bacterial growth are known in the art and include without limitation yeast extract, peptone, sugars, suitable salts, and the like. In any embodiment, the first and/or second dry coating further can comprise a selective agent (e.g., a nutrient, an antibiotic, and combinations thereof) that facilitates the growth of a particular anaerobic microorganism or group of microorganisms over another microorganism or group of microorganisms. Those skilled in the art will recognize that a variety of other formulations could be used and that these do not detract from the scope of this invention.

    [0051] In any embodiment, the nutrient or nutrient medium facilitates the growth of a particular anaerobic microorganism or group of anaerobic microorganisms. For example, in any embodiment, a device of the present disclosure may be used to grow, identify and/or enumerate sulfate-reducing bacteria. In these embodiments, the nutrient medium used in the device may comprise the ingredients of Bolton broth medium or modified charcoal cefoperazone dexoycholate (mCCD) medium, for example. In any embodiment, blood may be added to the culture device at the time of inoculation, as described in International Patent Publication No. WO2010/077619.

    [0052] Preferably, when the first dry coating 14 consists primarily of dry powder or dry powder agglomerate, the first coating 14 is disposed on a first adhesive layer 12 that is disposed on at least a portion of the inner surface 10b of the base 10. The first dry coating 14 can be deposited onto the base 10 or onto the optional first adhesive layer 12 using compounding processes, adhesive coating processes, and liquid-coating processes and/or dry-coating processes described, for example, in U.S. Patent Nos. 4,565,783; 5,089,413; and 5,232,838.

    [0053] Preferably, when the second dry coating 24 consists primarily of dry powder or dry powder agglomerate, the second coating 24 is disposed on a second adhesive layer 22 that is disposed on at least a portion of the inner surface 20b of the coversheet 20. The second dry coating 24 can be deposited onto the coversheet 20 or onto the optional second adhesive layer 22 using compounding processes, adhesive coating processes, and liquid-coating processes and/or dry-coating processes described, for example, in U.S. Patent Nos. 4,565,783; 5,089,413; and 5,232,838.

    [0054] The growth compartment 60 is defined as a volume disposed between the inner surfaces (inner surfaces 10b and 20b, respectively) of the base 10 and coversheet 20, the volume encompassing at least a portion of the first dry coating 14 and/or second dry coating 24. Thus, when an aqueous liquid is distributed into the growth compartment, the aqueous liquid is in fluidic contact with at least a portion of the first dry coating 14, if present, and/or second dry coating 24, if present. The thickness of the growth compartment 60 may vary depending upon, for example, the volume of aqueous liquid (not shown) deposited in the culture device, the presence of solids (e.g., suspended particulates and/or a membrane filter) associated with the sample (not shown), and/or a spacer member 30 in the culture device 10.

    [0055] A culture device of the present disclosure includes an effective amount of a dry, carbon dioxide-generating reagent disposed in the growth compartment. "Dry", as used herein, means the reagent is substantially water-free. The phrase "substantially water-free" refers to a reagent that has a water content no greater than about the water content of the material (e.g., provided as a powder or as a dehydrated aqueous coating) once it has been permitted to equilibrate with the ambient environment.

    [0056] Without being bound by theory, the carbon dioxide-generating reagent, when activated by contact with an aqueous liquid in the growth compartment, establishes an equilibrium of the following dissolved species: one or more salts of carbonic acid, carbonic acid, and carbon dioxide. Advantageously, the effective amount of carbon dioxide-generating reagent is sufficient to elevate the dissolved carbon dioxide to a concentration that facilitates growth of a variety of microorganisms.

    [0057] Preferably, in any embodiment, the carbon dioxide-generating reagent is provided in the form of a dry powder. More preferably, in any embodiment, the carbon dioxide-generating reagent is provided as a dry powder that is milled and classified to form a population of particles with a size distribution consisting essentially of particles having a diameter of less than 106 microns. Advantageously, in particles having a diameter of less than 106 microns can be adhered to the base or the coversheet (e.g., adhered to an adhesive layer coated onto the base or coversheet) in an amount effective to create and maintain during an incubation period of several days a CO2-enriched environment in the growth compartment after the device is inoculated with a predefined volume of aqueous liquid and closed.

    [0058] Advantageously, the carbon dioxide generation occurs in situ in the culture device, thereby avoiding the need for lengthy periods in which the aqueous medium must equilibrate with an external gaseous environment (e.g., as in traditional procedures) in order to provide above-ambient concentrations of CO2 in the culture device. In addition, in any embodiment, the maximum concentration of carbon dioxide in the hydrated (inoculated) culture device can be controlled by the amount of carbon dioxide-generating reagent and the pH of the hydrated components.

    [0059] At least one dry component (e.g., the gelling agent) is hydrated with an aqueous liquid before, during, or after the introduction (e.g., inoculation) of sample material into the growth compartment of the culture device, as described herein. Typically, the sample material and/or aqueous liquid is introduced into the growth compartment of the culture device in ambient conditions (i.e., in an aerobic gaseous environment). Thus, after inoculation of the growth compartment with a sample under aerobic conditions, the aqueous liquid in the growth compartment of the culture device comprises a first dissolved-carbon dioxide concentration. The carbon dioxide-generating reagent in the culture device functions to increase the first dissolved-carbon dioxide concentration in the aqueous liquid in the growth compartment to a second dissolved-carbon dioxide concentration that is higher than the first dissolved-carbon dioxide concentration. This increase of the dissolved-carbon dioxide concentration in the growth compartment of the inoculated culture device facilitates the growth of capnophilic microorganisms in the culture device.

    [0060] In any embodiment, increasing the first dissolved carbon dioxide concentration to the second dissolved carbon dioxide concentration occurs at a temperature between ambient temperature (e.g., about 23 degrees C) and about 42 degrees C, inclusive. Thus, in any embodiment of a method according to the present disclosure, it is not required to incubate the culture device at an elevated temperature (i.e., above ambient temperature) in order to increase the first dissolved carbon dioxide concentration to the second dissolved carbon dioxide concentration after bringing the carbon dioxide-generating reagent into fluidic contact with the predefined volume of aqueous liquid in the growth compartment of the culture device.

    [0061] A person having ordinary skill in the art will recognize the amount of carbon dioxide generated in the growth compartment of a culture device of the present disclosure within a period of time suitable for culturing microorganisms is dependent inter alia upon the quantity of carbon dioxide-generating reagent in the growth compartment of the culture device. The experimental results presented herein show the relationship between the quantity of carbon dioxide-generating reagent and the rate and extent of CO2 enrichment in the growth compartment. Therefore, by adjusting the amount of carbon dioxide-generating reagent in the growth compartment according to the present disclosure, the culture device can be configured for culturing capnophilic microorganisms having various requirements for CO2-enriched environments.

    [0062] Optionally, a culture device of the present disclosure further can comprise other dry, water-rehydratable components such as a buffer reagent, and/or an effective amount of an oxygen-scavenging reagent.

    [0063] In any embodiment, the effective amount of the oxygen-scavenging reagent and concentration thereof is selected such that reducing the first dissolved oxygen concentration to the second dissolved oxygen concentration occurs within about 120 minutes after bringing the oxygen-scavenging reagent into fluidic contact with the predefined volume of aqueous liquid in the growth compartment of the culture device. In any embodiment, the effective amount of the oxygen-scavenging reagent and concentration thereof is selected such that reducing the first dissolved oxygen concentration to the second dissolved oxygen concentration occurs within about 60 minutes after bringing the oxygen-scavenging reagent into fluidic contact with the predefined volume of aqueous liquid in the growth compartment of the culture device. In any embodiment, the effective amount of the oxygen-scavenging reagent and concentration thereof is selected such that reducing the first dissolved oxygen concentration to the second dissolved oxygen concentration occurs within about 30 minutes after bringing the oxygen-scavenging reagent into fluidic contact with the predefined volume of aqueous liquid in the growth compartment of the culture device.

    [0064] A number of oxygen-scavenging reagents are known including, for example, ascorbic acid (e.g., L-ascorbic acid) and salts thereof, ferrous iron salts, metal salts of sulfite, bisulfite, and metabisulfite. A suitable oxygen-scavenging reagent according to the present disclosure consumes enough oxygen to create a low-oxygen or anaerobic local environment in the culture device and produces quantities and types of reaction products that can be in fluidic communication with the microorganisms to be cultured in the device without substantially inhibiting growth of those microorganisms. In any embodiment, the oxygen-scavenging reagent is disposed in the growth compartment in a quantity of about 1.5 micromoles/10 cm2 surface area of the base or the coversheet in the growth compartment to about 15 micromoles/10 cm2 surface area of the base or the coversheet in the growth compartment.

    [0065] In any embodiment, the optional oxygen-scavenging reagent can comprise a plurality of reagents that work cooperatively to react with molecular oxygen. An example of such a plurality of reagents includes, for example, enzymes and corresponding enzyme substrates that act cooperatively to reduce molecular oxygen. Nonlimiting examples of such oxygen-scavenging systems can be found in PCT Publication No. WO2015/061213.

    [0066] Preferably, in any embodiment, the oxygen-scavenging reagent is provided in the form of a dry powder. More preferably, in any embodiment, the oxygen-scavenging reagent is provided as a dry powder that is milled and classified to form a population of particles with a size distribution consisting essentially of particles having a diameter of less than 106 microns. Advantageously, an oxygen-scavenging reagent provided in particles having a diameter of less than 106 microns can be adhered to the base or the coversheet (e.g., adhered to an adhesive layer coated onto the base or coversheet) in an amount effective to create and maintain (e.g., up to about 24 hours of incubation, up to about 48 hours of incubation, up to about 72 hours of incubation, up to 4 days of incubation, up to 5 days of incubation, up to 7 days of incubation, at least 24 hours of incubation, at least 48 hours of incubation, at least 72 hours of incubation, at least 4 days of incubation, at least 5 days of incubation, at least 7 days of incubation) an anaerobic environment in the growth compartment when the device is inoculated with a predefined volume of aqueous liquid and closed.

    [0067] Adhesive used in the optional adhesive layer 22 disposed on the coversheet 20 can be the same as or different from the adhesive used in the optional adhesive layer 12 disposed on the base 10. In addition, the second dry coating 24 disposed on the coversheet 20 can be the same as or different from the first dry coating 14 disposed on the base 10. Coatings on coversheet 20 can cover the entire surface facing the base, but preferably cover at least a part of the inner surface 20a that defines at least a portion of the growth compartment 60 of the culture device 100.

    [0068] In any embodiment, a selective agent may be disposed in the device in a dry coating or, optionally, dissolved in an adhesive layer within the growth compartment.

    [0069] Optionally, a culture device of the present disclosure further comprises a means for indicating oxygen in a culture device. Preferably, the means is capable of indicating a quantity (e.g., either a predetermined threshold quantity or a relative quantity) of oxygen present in the device. Advantageously, the means can indicate whether or when the oxygen-scavenging reagent has suitably depleted the oxygen in the growth compartment of the culture device to a concentration that facilitates the growth of microaerophilic, microaerotolerant or obligately-anaerobic microorganisms. Means for detecting oxygen in a culture device are known in the art and include, for example, redox dyes (e.g., methylene blue) and oxygen-quenched fluorescent dyes.

    [0070] The means can be a luminescent compound that indicates the absence of oxygen inside of the device. Suitable oxygen indicators are disclosed in U.S. Patent No. 6,689,438 (Kennedy et al.), which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety. Luminescent compounds appropriate as indicators for a culture device of the present disclosure will display luminescence that is quenched by oxygen. More precisely, the indicators will luminesce upon exposure to their excitation frequency with an emission that is inversely proportional to the oxygen concentration. The indicator may be coated, laminated, or extruded onto another layer, or portion of another layer, within the device. Such a layer may be disposed in the growth compartment and optionally, is separated from the growth compartment by one or more other oxygen permeable layers. Suitable compounds for indicating oxygen include metallo derivatives of octaethylporphyrin, tetraphenylporphyrin, tetrabenzoporphyrin, the chlorins, or bacteriochlorins. Other suitable compounds include palladium coproporphyrin (PdCPP), platinum and palladium octaethylporphyrin (PtOEP, PdOEP), platinum and palladium tetraphenylporphyrin (PtTPP, PdTPP), camphorquinone (CQ), and xanthene type dyes such as erythrosin B (EB). Other suitable compounds include ruthenium, osmium and iridium complexes with ligands such as 2,2'-bipyridine, 1,10-phenanthroline, 4,7-diphenyl-1,10-phenanthroline and the like. Suitable examples of these include, tris(4,7,-diphenyl-1,10-phenanthroline)ruthenium(II) perchlorate, tris(2,2'-bipyridine)ruthenium(II) perchlorate, tris(1,10-phenanthroline)ruthenium(II) perchlorate, and the like.

    [0071] A culture device of the present disclosure optionally includes a dry buffer reagent disposed in the growth compartment that, when hydrated with deionized water, brings the water to a predefined pH that is suitable culture culturing and optionally selectively-enriching certain groups of microorganisms. For example, in any embodiment, the predefined pH may be about 7.0 to about 8.0. In any embodiment, the predefined pH may be less than or equal to 6.35 (e.g., about 4.5 to about 6.35). A slightly acidic pH provides several advantages: i) the acidic environment selectively favors growth of acid-tolerant microorganisms over other microorganisms that may be present in a sample and ii) the acidic environment can shift the equilibrium of the carbon generating reagent toward a higher proportion of dissolved CO2. Both of these advantages can facilitate growth of certain microorganisms (lactic acid bacteria (LAB), for example) in the culture device.

    [0072] Buffer reagents used in a device of the present disclosure include any microbiologically-compatible buffer having a pKa of about 8.0 or less. The acidic and basic parts of the buffer reagent are present in the culture device in a ratio such that, when a predefined volume of deionized water is contacted with the buffer reagent, the pH of the in the growth compartment is suitable for growth and detection of a particular microorganism or group of microorganisms. Suitable buffer reagents include, for example, a metal phosphate salt, a metal acetate salt, 2-(N-morpholino)ethanesulfonic acid and sodium 2-(N-morpholino)ethanesulfonic acid, succinic acid, and sodium succinate. A person having ordinary skill in the art will recognize the ratio of acid an base buffer reagents can be adjusted in order to achieve the desired pH of the aqueous mixture formed when an predetermined volume of aqueous liquid (e.g., comprising the sample) is deposited in the growth compartment and the device is closed.

    [0073] A culture device of the present disclosure optionally includes an indicator reagent. Suitable indicator reagents (e.g., triphenyltetrazolium chloride (TTC)) may detect substantially all microorganisms present in the culture device. Optionally, the indicator reagent may be a differential indicator; i.e., the indicator reagent distinguishes certain microorganisms from other microorganisms. Suitable indicator reagents include, for example, a pH indicator, a redox indicator, a chromogenic enzyme substrate, and a fluorogenic enzyme substrate for detecting the presence of a microorganism. The indicator should not substantially interfere with the oxygen-scavenging reagent. In any embodiment, the indicator reagent may be disposed in the device in a dry coating or, optionally, dissolved in an adhesive layer within the growth compartment.

    [0074] A culture device of the present disclosure optionally includes a reducing agent. Suitable indicator reagents are useful to lower the oxidation-reduction potential of the growth medium and, thereby, facilitate growth of anaerobic microorganisms. Suitable reducing agents include, for example, sodium thioglycollate, L-cysteine, dithiothreitol, dithioerythritol, and combinations thereof.

    [0075] In any embodiment, the growth compartment can be dimensioned to be hydrated with a 1 milliliter aqueous liquid volume. Although carbon dioxide exists in atmospheric air at a concentration of about 330 ppm, surface water contains only about 10 ppm free CO2. The addition of carbonate ions (e.g., in the form of metal salts) into an aqueous composition drives an equilibrium reaction that can result in increased amounts of dissolved CO2 in the aqueous composition.

    [0076] Water comprises about 0.54 µmoles of dissolved oxygen per milliliter. Thus, the first dry coating and/or second dry coating preferably comprises at least enough oxygen-scavenging reagent, when present, to consume 0.54 µmoles of oxygen in a period of 120 minutes or less at about 22 degrees C to about 42 degrees C. More preferably, the first dry coating and/or second dry coating preferably comprises at least enough oxygen-scavenging reagent, when present, to consume more than 0.54 µmoles of oxygen in a period of 120 minutes or less at about 22 degrees C to about 42 degrees C.

    [0077] In any embodiment, the first dry coating and/or second dry coating can include any number of other components, such as dyes (e.g., a pH indicator), crosslinking agents, reagents (e.g., selective reagents or indicator reagents such as chromogenic or fluorogenic enzyme substrates), or a combination of any two or more of the foregoing components. For example, for some uses it is desirable to incorporate an indicator of microbial growth (e.g., a pH indicator, a chromogenic enzyme substrate, a redox dye) in the first and/or second dry coating or in an adhesive of to which the first and/or second dry coating is adhered. Suitable dyes include those that are metabolized by or otherwise react with the growing microorganisms, and in so doing cause the colonies to be colored or fluorescent for easier visualization. Such dyes include triphenyl tetrazolium chloride, p-tolyl tetrazolium red, tetrazolium violet, veratryl tetrazolium blue and related dyes, and 5-bromo-4-chloroindolyl phosphate disodium salt. Other suitable dyes include those sensitive to pH changes during the growth of microorganisms, such as neutral red.

    [0078] For some uses it is desirable to form a dry coating that, when reconstituted with an aqueous liquid, forms a hydrogel that is stiff enough to allow inoculation by streaking. To form streakable medium, an effective amount of a suitable cross-linking agent can be incorporated into one or more dry coating that includes a gelling agent. Suitable cross-linking agents do not substantially affect the growth of the intended microorganisms. Suitable types and amounts of cross-linking agents are easily selected by those skilled in the art. For example, with guar gum, cross-linking agents such as potassium tetraborate, aluminum salts, or calcium salts are suitable, and can be added in effective amounts, e.g., less than about 1.0 percent by weight of dry coating.

    [0079] At least one dry coating can optionally include reagents necessary for carrying out certain microbiological tests. For example, antibiotics can be included for carrying out antibiotic susceptibility tests. For microorganism identification, differential reagents that undergo a color change in the presence of a particular type of microorganism can be included.

    [0080] In any embodiment, the dry buffer reagent, the reducing agent, the carbon-dioxide-generating reagent and/or the indicator reagent can be disposed in the growth compartment as a dry powder (e.g., dry powder 40 of FIGS. 2 and 3) that is not adhered to the first or second adhesive layers. Alternatively, the dry buffer system, the reducing agent, the carbon-dioxide-generating reagentand/or the indicator reagent can be including in the first and/or second coatings as described herein.

    [0081] A culture device of the present can be prepared using a variety of techniques. Generally, a device can be made by hand or with common laboratory equipment as described herein and in U.S. Patent Nos. 4,565,783; 5,089,413; and 5,232,838, for example.

    [0082] A nonlimiting example of a suitable pressure-sensitive adhesive that can be used in the first adhesive layer and/or second adhesive layer is a copolymer of 2-methylbutylacrylate/acrylic acid in a mole ratio of 90/10. Other preferred pressure sensitive adhesives that can be used include isooctylacrylate/acrylic acid in a mole ratio of 95/5 or 94/6 and silicone rubber. Adhesives that turn milky (e.g., opaque) upon exposure to water are less preferred, but can be used in conjunction with a non-transparent base or in situations where colony visualization is not required. Heat-activated adhesives having a lower melting substance coated onto a higher melting substance and/or water-activated adhesives such as mucilage are also known and can be used in this invention. When incorporating an indicator reagent as described above in order to facilitate visualization of colonies, it is generally preferred to incorporate the indicator reagent in the adhesive or broth coating mixture, rather than in the powder.

    [0083] The first adhesive layer or second adhesive layer is coated (e.g., using a knife coater) onto the top surface of base or coversheet to form an adhesive layer at a thickness that is preferably less than the average diameter of the particles of dry powder or agglomerated powder to be adhered to the adhesive. Generally, enough adhesive is coated in order to adhere the particles to the substrate (e.g., the first or coversheet described herein) but not so much that the particles become completely embedded in the adhesive. Generally, an adhesive layer about 5 µm to about 12 µm thick is suitable.

    [0084] Preferably, when gelling agent is included in the first dry coating and/or second dry coating, it is included in an amount such that a predetermined quantity of water or an aqueous sample, e.g., 1 to 3 ml or more, placed in the growth compartment will form a hydrogel having a suitable viscosity, e.g., about 1500 cps or more when measured at 60 rpm with a Brookfield Model L VF viscometer at 25° C. Hydrogels of this viscosity allow convenient handling and stacking of the culture devices during incubation and provide for distinct colony formation in the medium. For instance, 0.025 g to 0.050 g of powdered guar gum spread substantially uniformly over a surface area of 20.3 cm2 will provide a sufficiently viscous medium when reconstituted with 1 to 3 ml of an aqueous sample. The size of the powder particles can be used to control the coating weight per unit area. For example, under conditions where a 100 mesh guar gum coats to a weight of about 0.05 g/20.3 cm2, a 400 mesh guar gum coats to a weight of about 0.025 g/20.3 cm2.

    [0085] In any embodiment, the first dry coating or second dry coating can comprise one or more nutrients to facilitate growth of microorganisms. When the coating consists essentially of powders or powder agglomerates, the preferred ratio of gelling agent to nutrient in an adhered powder medium is determined by the particular microorganism to be grown on the device. For general purposes, however, a ratio from about 4 to 1 to about 5 to 1 (total gelling agent to total nutrient, based on weight) is preferred. The powder in an adhered powder medium can be applied to the adhesive layer (e.g., first adhesive layer 12 and/or second adhesive layer 22) by any means suitable for the application of a substantially uniform layer. Examples of suitable methods to apply the layer of powders include the use of a shaker-type device, or the use of a powder coater.

    [0086] A person having ordinary skill in the art will recognize suitable nutrients for use in a device of the present disclosure to grow and detect particular microaerophilic, microaerotolerant, or obligately-anaerobic microorganisms. Non-limiting examples of suitable nutrients include a source of peptone (e.g., meat extract, meat peptone), yeast extract, an enzymatic digest of casein, and a carbohydrate (e.g., maltose, glucose, trehalose, sucrose). In any embodiment, the carbohydrate may be a nutrient that is fermented to glucose by certain microorganisms.

    [0087] When using culture device of the present disclosure, an accurate count of the colonies of microorganisms present can be desirable. Thus, in any embodiment, a culture device of the present disclosure may comprise a grid pattern on base or, alternatively, on the coversheet. The grid pattern may comprise a square grid pattern such as, for example, the square grid pattern disclosed in U.S. Patent No. 4,565,783. The grid pattern may be produced on the first or coversheet by any suitable process such as printing methods, for example.

    [0088] In another aspect, the present disclosure provides a method of making the self-contained anaerobic environment-generating culture device of any of the above embodiments. The method comprises adhering a cold water-soluble gelling agent onto a portion of a base. The gelling agent may be dry (e.g., in the form of substantially water-free particles) when adhered to the base or the gelling agent may be adhered to the base as a liquid coating (e.g., an aqueous liquid coating) and subsequently dried to a substantially water-free state. The method further comprises positioning the base adjacent a coversheet and placing a spacer member therebetween, the spacer member comprising an aperture that defines a growth compartment as described herein. In any embodiment, the spacer member may be attached (e.g., via an adhesive) to the base or the cover sheet.

    [0089] The base is positioned adjacent the cover sheet such that at least a portion of the adhered gelling agent faces the growth compartment disposed between the base and the coversheet. Optionally, in any embodiment, a first adhesive layer may be applied (e.g., using coating processes known in the art) to the base and the cold water-soluble gelling agent may be adhered to the first adhesive layer.

    [0090] In an alternative embodiment, the cold water-soluble gelling agent may be adhered to the coversheet by any of the processes described for adhering the gelling agent to the base. Drying the adhered gelling agent, if the gelling agent is liquid-coated, can be performed by a number of processes known in the art. The coating can be dried in an oven (e.g., a gravity oven, a convection oven), for example, according to the process described in U.S. Patent No. 5,601,998. Preferably, the adhered gelling agent is dried until it is substantially water-free. As used herein, the phrases "substantially dry", "substantially water-free" or the like refer to a coating which has a water content no greater than about the water content of the dehydrated coating once it has been permitted to equilibrate with the ambient environment.

    [0091] The method further comprises depositing the carbon dioxide-generating reagent, the oxygen-scavenging reagent (if present), and the buffer reagent (if present) into the growth compartment of the culture device. In any embodiment, any one or all of the oxygen-scavenging reagent, the buffer reagent, and the carbon dioxide-generating reagent can be deposited into the growth compartment as a dry powder. Optionally, any one or all of oxygen-scavenging reagent, the buffer reagent, and the carbon dioxide-generating reagent may be adhered to an adhesive (e.g. a first adhesive layer or second adhesive layer as described herein) in the growth compartment. Other optional components (e.g., indicator reagents, selective agents, nutrients) may also be deposited into the growth compartment, optionally, adhered to an adhesive layer.

    [0092] Positioning the base adjacent the coversheet, such that the adhered gelling agent faces the growth compartment disposed between the base and the coversheet can be performed in a variety of ways. A representative example of positioning the base and coversheets adjacent each other so that a portion of the gelling agent overlaps the growth compartment is shown in FIGS. 1-3. It can be seen that the overlapping configuration permits an operator to deposit an aqueous liquid between the base and the coversheet thereby placing the gelling agent, the oxygen-scavenging reagent, and other dry components present in the growth compartment into fluid communication.

    [0093] In yet another aspect, the present disclosure provides a method of detecting a microorganism. The method uses any embodiment of the culture device of the any one of the embodiments described above. The culture device comprises a base; a coversheet; a spacer member disposed between the inner surfaces of the base and the coversheet, the spacer member comprising an aperture that defines a shape and a depth of a growth compartment; a dry, cold-water-soluble gelling agent adhered to the base or the coversheet in the growth compartment; and an effective amount of a dry oxygen-scavenging reagent disposed in the growth compartment as described herein.

    [0094] In any embodiment, the method comprises placing the culture device of any embodiment of the present disclosure into an open configuration to provide access to the growth compartment therein, placing a predefined volume of aqueous liquid into the growth compartment, placing a sample into the growth compartment, closing the culture device, incubating the culture device for a period of time sufficient to permit formation of a microbial colony in the culture medium, and detecting the microbial colony, wherein placing the aqueous liquid and the sample into the growth compartment and closing the culture device comprises forming a semi-solid microbial culture medium enclosed by the base, the coversheet, and the spacer of the culture device.

    [0095] In any embodiment, the predetermined volume of aqueous liquid used to hydrate and/or inoculate the culture device is about 0.1 milliliter to about 10 milliliters. In any embodiment, the predetermined volume of aqueous liquid used to hydrate and/or inoculate the culture device is about 1 milliliter. In any embodiment, the predetermined volume of aqueous liquid used to hydrate and/or inoculate the culture device is about 2 milliliters. In any embodiment, the predetermined volume of aqueous liquid used to hydrate and/or inoculate the culture device is about 3 milliliters. In any embodiment, the predetermined volume of aqueous liquid used to hydrate and/or inoculate the culture device is about 4 milliliters. In any embodiment, the predetermined volume of aqueous liquid used to hydrate and/or inoculate the culture device is about 5 milliliters. In any embodiment, the predetermined volume of aqueous liquid used to hydrate and/or inoculate the culture device is about 10 milliliters. In any embodiment, the aqueous liquid used to hydrate the growth region of the culture device is distributed over an area that results in approximately one milliliter of liquid per 20.3 cm2 of growth region.

    [0096] In any embodiment of the method, placing the predetermined volume into the growth compartment comprises simultaneously placing the sample into the growth compartment. For example, the sample may be a liquid (e.g., a water or beverage sample to be tested for microbial contamination) or the sample may be a solid or semisolid sample suspended in a liquid carrier or diluent.

    [0097] Alternatively, in any embodiment, placing the predetermined volume into the growth compartment does not comprise simultaneously placing the sample into the growth compartment. For example, the sample may comprise a liquid, a solid, or a semisolid material that is placed into the growth compartment before or after a predefined volume of (preferably sterile) liquid carrier or diluent is placed into the growth compartment of the culture device.

    [0098] Typically, the culture device is placed on a generally-level surface and the base and coversheet are separated (e.g., the coversheet is lifted) to provide access to the growth compartment of the culture device while the growth compartment is being hydrated and/or inoculated. Advantageously, the culture device can be hydrated and/or inoculated in an aerobic environment (i.e., in air). Typically, an aqueous liquid (which may include sample material to be tested) used to hydrate the device is pipetted onto the growth compartment between the base and the coversheet. After the predefined volume of aqueous liquid is deposited into the growth compartment, the culture device is closed (e.g., by lowering the coversheet until it contacts the spacer member). Optionally, a flat or concave spreader, similar to those used to inoculate PETRIFILM culture devices, can be used to distribute the aqueous liquid over a predefined area within the culture device.

    [0099] In any embodiment, a seal that completely isolates the growth compartment form the external atmosphere is not formed when the culture device is closed. Accordingly, in these embodiments of the method, an open fluid pathway exists from a gaseous environment outside the culture device to the semisolid microbial culture medium enclosed in the growth compartment. Surprisingly, a CO2-enriched environment is maintained in the device for a sufficient period of time to culture capnophilic microorganisms in spite of the aforementioned open pathway.

    [0100] In any embodiment of the method, placing the predetermined volume into the growth compartment can comprise simultaneously placing the sample into the growth compartment. In these embodiments, the sample may comprise an aqueous liquid and/or the sample may be diluted into or suspended in an aqueous liquid.

    [0101] Alternatively, in any embodiment, placing the predetermined volume into the growth compartment does not comprise simultaneously placing the sample into the growth compartment. In these embodiments, a predetermined volume of aqueous liquid can be placed (e.g., pipetted) into the growth compartment before or after placing the sample into the growth compartment. For example, the sample may be captured onto a membrane filter, which is placed into the growth compartment before or after the gelling agent is hydrated with aqueous liquid.

    [0102] In any embodiment of the method, placing the sample into the growth compartment comprises placing one or more additive into the growth compartment. The one or more additive can be placed into the growth compartment with the sample or separately. The one or more additive may perform a variety of functions in the method. For example, in any embodiment, the one or more additive may comprise a nutrient or a nutrient medium to facilitate growth of target microorganisms in the device. Such nutrients and nutrient media are well known in the art and may be selected based upon the particular microorganism to be cultured. The nutrient and nutrient medium should not substantially interfere with the carbon dioxide-generating reagent or the oxygen-scavenging reagent, if present. Interference with the oxygen-scavenging reagent can be tested readily by using an oxygen sensor as described in Examples 2-3 of PCT Publication No. WO2015/061213.

    [0103] Alternatively or additionally, in any embodiment, the additive comprises one or more selective agent (e.g., an antibiotic, a salt) that favors growth of one microorganism over at least one other microorganism. In an embodiment, the selective agent favors the growth of one microorganism over other microorganisms present in a sample. Alternatively or additionally, in any embodiment, the additive comprises an indicator reagent (e.g., a pH indicator, a redox indicator, a chromogenic enzyme substrate, a fluorogenic enzyme substrate) for detecting the presence of a microorganism. A person having ordinary skill in the art will recognize selective agents and indicator reagents useful for detecting certain microorganisms. The selective agent and/or indicator should not substantially interfere with the carbon dioxide-generating reagent.

    [0104] In any embodiment, an effective amount of the selective agent substantially permits germination and growth of Lactic Acid Bacteria in the culture device and the effective amount of selective agent substantially inhibits growth of E. coli, S. aureus, C. sporogenes, C. perfringens, Bacteroides fragilis, Prevotella melaninogencia, and/or Fusobacterium species.

    [0105] When contacted by aqueous liquid in the growth compartment; the dry components (e.g., the carbon dioxide-generating reagent, the buffer reagent, the oxygen scavenging reagent, the nutrient, the indicator reagent, the reducing agent, and/or the selective agent) and the aqueous liquid form a mixture that comprises a first concentration of dissolved carbon dioxide and a first concentration of dissolved oxygen.

    [0106] In any embodiment, the first concentration of dissolved carbon dioxide in the aqueous mixture in the growth compartment may be a concentration that supports growth of a microorganism. However, some or all of the microorganisms in the sample may accumulate biomass faster in a CO2-enriched environment. Thus, in these embodiments, placing the components in aqueous fluid communication with the optional carbon dioxide-generating reagent initiates a carbon dioxide-generating reaction, thereby increasing the first concentration of available carbon dioxide in the aqueous mixture in the growth compartment to a second concentration that is higher than the first concentration. The additional available carbon dioxide does not result in the formation of macroscopic (i.e., ≥ 1 mm-diameter gas bubbles) in the hydrogel formed in the growth compartment when a culture device of the present disclosure is inoculated and incubated. Thus, culture devices containing the carbon dioxide-generating reagent can be used in methods that involve detection of fermentation of a fermentable carbohydrate to CO2 gas, which accumulates as a bubble adjacent the colony.

    [0107] In any embodiment, the first concentration of dissolved oxygen in the aqueous mixture in the growth compartment may be a concentration that substantially inhibits growth of an obligately-anaerobic microorganism, a microaerophilic microorganism, and/or a microaerotolerant microorganism. In these embodiments, placing the components in aqueous fluid communication with the oxygen-scavenging reagent (if present), initiates an oxygen-scavenging reaction, thereby reducing the first concentration of dissolved oxygen in the aqueous liquid in the growth compartment to a second concentration that is lower than the first concentration (e.g., at least about 25% lower, at least about 50% lower, at least about 60% lower, at least about 70% lower, at least about 80%, at least about 90%, at least about 95%, at least about 98%, at least about 99% lower, or greater than 99% lower than the first concentration).

    [0108] In any embodiment, reducing the first concentration of dissolved oxygen to the second concentration of dissolved oxygen can comprise reducing the dissolved oxygen in the aqueous mixture in the growth compartment to a second concentration that is low enough to support the growth of LAB (e.g., aerotolerant LAB or obligately anaerobic LAB).

    [0109] In any embodiment, reducing the first concentration of dissolved oxygen to the second concentration of dissolved oxygen comprises reducing the dissolved oxygen to the second concentration in the aqueous mixture in the growth compartment in less than or equal to about 120 minutes after the mixture is formed. In any embodiment, reducing the first concentration of dissolved oxygen to the second concentration of dissolved oxygen comprises reducing the dissolved oxygen to the second concentration in the aqueous mixture in the growth compartment in less than or equal to about 90 minutes after the mixture is formed. In any embodiment, reducing the first concentration of dissolved oxygen to the second concentration of dissolved oxygen comprises reducing the dissolved oxygen to the second concentration in the aqueous mixture in the growth compartment in less than or equal to about 60 minutes after the mixture is formed. In any embodiment, reducing the first concentration of dissolved oxygen to the second concentration of dissolved oxygen comprises reducing the dissolved oxygen to the second concentration in the aqueous mixture in the growth compartment in less than or equal to about 30 minutes after the mixture is formed. In any embodiment, reducing the first concentration of dissolved oxygen to the second concentration of dissolved oxygen comprises reducing the dissolved oxygen to the second concentration in the aqueous mixture in the growth compartment in less than or equal to about 60 minutes after the mixture is formed. In any embodiment, reducing the first concentration of dissolved oxygen to the second concentration of dissolved oxygen comprises reducing the dissolved oxygen to the second concentration in the aqueous mixture in the growth compartment in less than or equal to about 45 minutes after the mixture is formed. In any embodiment, reducing the first concentration of dissolved oxygen to the second concentration of dissolved oxygen comprises reducing the dissolved oxygen to the second concentration in the aqueous mixture in the growth compartment in less than or equal to about 30 minutes after the mixture is formed.

    [0110] If the culture device is hydrated before sample material is placed into the device, the cold-water-soluble gelling agent optionally may be permitted to hydrate and form gel (e.g., at room temperature) for several minutes up to about 30 minutes or more before the device is reopened to inoculate with the culture material. During the period in which the gelling agent is permitted to hydrate and form a gel, the oxygen-scavenging reagent reduces the concentration of dissolved oxygen in the hydrated gelling agent from a first concentration to a second concentration that facilitates growth of microaerotolerant or obligately-anaerobic microorganisms, as discussed herein.

    [0111] Before or after the growth compartment of the culture device is hydrated, sample material can be contacted with the dry components in the growth compartment in a variety of ways that are known in the art. In any embodiment, the sample material is contacted with the dry components by depositing the sample material into the growth compartment. This can be done, for example, by pipetting, by contacting the growth compartment with a swab that was used to obtain the sample material (e.g., by swabbing a surface), by contacting the growth compartment with an inoculating loop or needle (e.g., using a streak-plate technique), or by placing a sample capture device (e.g., a swab, sponge, or membrane filter) directly into the growth compartment and re-closing the culture device. After the sample is deposited and the culture device is re-closed (taking care not to entrap macroscopically-visible air bubbles in the culture device), the carbon dioxide-generating reagent increases the concentration of dissolved carbon dioxide in the growth compartment.

    [0112] In any embodiment, after the dry components in the growth compartment of the culture device are hydrated and the gelling agent forms a gel, the culture device can be used as a contact plate (e.g., a Rodac plate). Thus, after the gel has formed, the base and the coversheet of the culture device are separated, exposing the hydrated gel. The hydrated gel is contacted with a surface to be sampled, and the culture device is re-closed, taking care not to entrap macroscopically-visible air bubbles in the culture device. Reclosing the device returns the hydrated gel to the growth compartment inside the culture device. Advantageously, the contact plate procedure can be performed in ambient air and, after re-closing the culture device, a carbon dioxide-enriched environment can be established in the culture device by the carbon dioxide-generating reagent.

    [0113] In any embodiment of the method, after the sample is placed into the growth compartment and closed, the culture device is incubated for a period of time (e.g., a predetermined period of time). The incubation conditions (e.g., the incubation temperature) can affect the rate of growth of the microorganisms, as is well known by a person having ordinary skill in the art. For example, incubation at lower temperatures (e.g., below about 25° C) can allow for the detection of psychrotrophic microorganisms. Incubation at higher temperatures (e.g., about 30° C, about 32° C, about 35° C, about 37° C) may facilitate faster growth of certain mesophilic microorganisms.

    [0114] In some embodiments, after inoculation, the culture device can be incubated for at least about 16 hours, at least about 18 hours, at least about 24 hours, or at least about 48 hours. In some embodiments, the culture device can be incubated not more than about 24 hours, not more than about 48 hours, or not more than about 72 hours. In certain preferred embodiments, the culture device is incubated about 24 hours to about 48 hours. In any embodiment, the culture device can be incubated, and maintain a CO2-enriched environment therein, for about 72 hours, for about 96 hours, or for about 120 hours or longer before detecting or counting microbial colonies growing in the growth compartment. In any embodiment, incubating the culture device for a period of time sufficient to permit formation of a microbial colony comprises incubating the culture device for the period of time in an aerobic atmosphere (i.e., the culture device is not placed into a CO2-enriched and/or anaerobic container or glovebox for incubation).

    [0115] After the inoculated culture device is incubated, the method further comprises detecting a microbial colony. Microbial colonies can be detected in the culture device by a variety of techniques that are known in the art. After a suitable incubation period, the absence of a microorganism can be detected in a culture device by the absence of observable colonies, the absence of a change in a growth indicator (e.g., a pH indicator, a chromogenic enzyme substrate, a redox indicator such as TTC, a fluorogenic enzyme substrate).

    [0116] An acid zone associated with a colony of microorganisms can be detected visually and/or by the use of an imaging system. For example, in a method wherein the culture medium comprises bromcresol purple as a pH indicator, the culture medium will have a purple or gray appearance at about a neutral pH. As the microorganisms grow and ferment a carbohydrate (e.g., glucose) in the culture medium, the bromcresol purple indicator will appear yellow adjacent the growing bacterial colonies. For example, in a method wherein the culture medium comprises chlorophenol red as a pH indicator, the culture medium will have a red or violet appearance at about a neutral pH. As the microorganisms and ferment a carbohydrate in the culture medium, the chlorophenol red indicator will appear yellow adjacent the growing microbial colonies.

    [0117] In any of the above embodiments, the method further can comprise obtaining an image of the culture device. In these embodiments, detecting the presence or absence of a LAB comprises displaying, printing, or analyzing the image of the culture device. The imaging system comprises an imaging device and may comprise a processor. In some embodiments, the imaging device can comprise a line-scanner or an area scanner (e.g., a camera). The imaging device can include a monochromatic (e.g., black-and-white) or a polychromatic (e.g., color) scanner. Advantageously, monochromatic imaging systems can provide higher resolution images, which may improve the accuracy of the result and/or reduce the time necessary to detect the presence of microorganisms in the culture device.

    [0118] In some embodiments, the imaging system further comprises an illumination system. The illumination system may include at least one source of broad-spectrum visible light (e.g., a "white" light). In some embodiments, the illumination system may include at least one source of narrow-spectrum visible light (e.g., a light-emitting diode that emits a relatively narrow bandwidth of visible light such as, for example, red, green, or blue light). In certain embodiments, the illumination system may include a source of narrow-spectrum visible light (e.g., a light-emitting diode) with a light emission peak at a preselected wavelength (e.g., about 525 nm).

    [0119] The image can be obtained from light reflected by the components (e.g., microbial colonies, growth media, and indicators) in the growth compartment of the culture device or the image can be obtained from light transmitted through the components in the growth compartment of the culture device. Suitable imaging systems and corresponding illumination systems are described, for example, in International Patent Publication No. WO 2005/024047 and U.S. Patent Application Publication Nos. US 2004/0101954 and US 2004/0102903.

    [0120] Non-limiting examples of suitable imaging systems include PETRIFILM Plate Reader (PPR), available from 3M Company (St. Paul, MN), the PETRISCAN Colony Counter available from Spiral Biotech (Norwood, MA), and PROTOCOL and ACOLYTE plate scanners available from Synbiosis (Cambridge, U.K.).

    [0121] In some embodiments, obtaining an image comprises obtaining a wavelength-biased image. For example, the imaging system can include a bias filter that biases the light collected by the imaging device. Filter elements are known in the art and include both "cut-off' filters (i.e., filters that allow the passage of light wavelengths either above or below a certain specified wavelength) and "band-pass" filters (i.e., filters that allow the passage of light wavelengths between certain specified upper and lower limits). A bias filter can be positioned between the illumination source and the culture device. Alternatively or additionally, a bias filter can be positioned between the culture device and the imaging device.

    EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS



    [0122] 

    Embodiment A is a culture device for enumerating colonies of microorganisms, the device comprising:

    a base having opposing inner and outer surfaces;

    a coversheet having opposing inner and outer surfaces;

    a spacer member disposed between the base and the cover sheet, wherein the spacer member is coupled to the base or the coversheet, wherein the spacer member comprises an aperture that defines a shape and a depth of a growth compartment, wherein the spacer member and the growth compartment are disposed between the inner surface of the base and the inner surface of the coversheet;

    a first adhesive layer adhered to the base in the growth compartment or a second adhesive layer adhered to the coversheet in the growth compartment;

    an effective amount of a dry carbon dioxide-generating reagent adhered to the first adhesive layer or the second adhesive layer in the growth compartment;
    wherein the carbon dioxide-generating reagent consists essentially of particles having a diameter of less than 106 microns ; and

    a dry, cold-water-soluble gelling agent adhered to the base or the coversheet in the growth compartment;

    wherein the coversheet is coupled to the base or to the spacer member.

    Embodiment B is the culture device of Embodiment A, wherein the carbon dioxide-generating reagent consists essentially of particles having a diameter of less than 106 microns.

    Embodiment C is the culture device of Embodiment A or Embodiment B, further comprising an effective amount of a dry oxygen-scavenging reagent adhered to the first adhesive layer or the second adhesive layer in the growth compartment, wherein the oxygen-scavenging reagent consists essentially of particles having a diameter of less than 106 microns.

    Embodiment D is the culture device of any one of the preceding Embodiments, wherein the spacer member is nonporous.

    Embodiment E is the culture device of any one of the preceding Embodiments, further comprising an effective amount of a dry buffer reagent disposed in the growth compartment.

    Embodiment F is the culture device of Embodiment E, wherein the buffer reagent is adhered to the base or the coversheet in the growth compartment.

    Embodiment G is the culture device of Embodiment F, wherein the buffer reagent is adhered to the first adhesive layer or the second adhesive layer.

    Embodiment H is the culture device of any one of the preceding Embodiments, further comprising a dry nutrient to facilitate growth of a target microorganism.

    Embodiment I is the culture device of Embodiment H, wherein the nutrient comprises a fermentable carbohydrate.

    Embodiment J is the culture device of Embodiment I, wherein the carbohydrate is selected from the group consisting of glucose, maltose, sucrose, and trehalose.

    Embodiment K is the culture device of any one of Embodiments H through J, wherein the nutrient is adhered to the base or the coversheet in the growth compartment.

    Embodiment L is the culture device of Embodiment K, wherein the nutrient is adhered to the first adhesive layer or the second adhesive layer.

    Embodiment M is the culture device of any one of the preceding Embodiments, further comprising a first indicator reagent for detecting growth of a target anaerobic microorganism.

    Embodiment N is the culture device of Embodiment M, wherein the first indicator reagent is adhered to the base or the coversheet in the growth compartment.

    Embodiment O is the culture device of Embodiment N, wherein the nutrient is adhered to the first adhesive layer or the second adhesive layer.

    Embodiment P is the culture device of any one of the preceding Embodiments, further comprising an effective amount of a selective agent to inhibit growth of a non-target microorganism.

    Embodiment Q is the culture device of Embodiment P, wherein the selective agent is selected from the group consisting of cycloheximide, a macrolide polyene, amphotericin B, natamycin, and filipin.

    Embodiment R is the culture device of Embodiment P or Embodiment Q, wherein the selective agent is adhered to the base or the coversheet in the growth compartment.

    Embodiment S is the culture device of Embodiment R, wherein the selective agent is adhered to the first adhesive layer or the second adhesive layer.

    Embodiment T is the culture device of any one of the preceding Embodiments, further comprising an effective amount of a reducing agent.

    Embodiment U is the culture device of Embodiment T, wherein the reducing agent is selected from the group consisting of sodium thioglycolate, dithiothreitol, and dithioerythritol.

    Embodiment V is the culture device of Embodiment T or Embodiment U, wherein the reducing agent is adhered to the base or the coversheet in the growth compartment.

    Embodiment W is the culture device of Embodiment V, wherein the reducing agent is adhered to the first adhesive layer or the second adhesive layer.

    Embodiment X is the culture device of any one of Embodiments C through W, wherein the carbon dioxide-generating reagent comprises a metal carbonate.

    Embodiment Y is the culture device of Embodiment X, wherein the metal carbonate is selected from the group consisting of sodium bicarbonate and sodium carbonate.

    Embodiment Z is the culture device of any one of the preceding Embodiments:

    wherein the inner surface of the base has the first adhesive adhered thereto;

    wherein one or more first component disposed in the growth compartment is adhered to the first adhesive;

    wherein the first component is selected from the group consisting of the gelling agent, the oxygen-scavenging reagent, the buffer reagent, the nutrient, the indicator reagent, the selective agent, the reducing agent, and a combination of any two or more of the foregoing first components.

    Embodiment AA is the culture device of Embodiment Z:

    wherein a second component is disposed in the first adhesive;

    wherein the second component is selected from the group consisting of the indicator reagent, the selective agent, and combinations thereof.

    Embodiment AB is the culture device of any one of the preceding Embodiments:

    wherein the inner surface of the coversheet has the second adhesive adhered thereto;

    wherein one or more third component disposed in the growth compartment is adhered to the second adhesive;

    wherein the third component is selected from the group consisting of the gelling agent, the oxygen-scavenging reagent, the buffer reagent, the nutrient, the indicator reagent, the selective agent, the reducing agent, and a combination of any two or more of the foregoing third components.

    Embodiment AC is the culture device of Embodiment AB:

    wherein a fourth component is disposed in the second adhesive;

    wherein the fourth component is selected from the group consisting of the indicator reagent, the selective agent, and combinations thereof.

    Embodiment AD is the culture device of any one of the preceding Embodiments, wherein the oxygen-scavenging reagent comprises ferrous iron or a salt thereof, ascorbic acid or a salt of ascorbic acid, or an enzyme that catalyzes an oxygen-consuming reaction.

    Embodiment AE is the culture device of any one of the preceding Embodiments, further comprising a second dry indicator reagent disposed in the growth compartment, wherein the second indicator reagent indicates a presence of non-target microorganisms and target microorganisms.

    Embodiment AF is the culture device of any one of the preceding Embodiments, wherein the oxygen-scavenging reagent is disposed in the growth compartment in a quantity of about 1 micromoles/10 cm2 surface area of the base or the coversheet in the growth compartment to about 15 micromoles/10 cm2 surface area of the base or the coversheet in the growth compartment.

    Embodiment AG is the culture device of any one of the preceding Embodiments, wherein the carbon dioxide-generating reagent is disposed in the growth compartment in a quantity of about 1 micromoles/10 cm2 surface area of the base or the coversheet in the growth compartment to about 35 micromoles/10 cm2 surface area of the base or the coversheet in the growth compartment.

    Embodiment AH is a method of detecting a microorganism in a sample, the method comprising:

    placing the culture device of any one of the preceding Embodiments into an open configuration that provides access to the growth compartment therein;

    placing a predefined volume of aqueous liquid into the growth compartment;

    placing a sample into the growth compartment;

    closing the culture device;

    wherein placing the aqueous liquid and the sample into the growth compartment and closing the culture device comprises forming a semi-solid microbial culture medium enclosed by the base, the coversheet, and the spacer of the culture device;

    incubating the culture device for a period of time sufficient to permit formation of a microbial colony in the culture medium; and

    detecting the microbial colony.

    Embodiment AI is the method of Embodiment AH, wherein placing the predetermined volume into the growth compartment comprises simultaneously placing the sample into the growth compartment.

    Embodiment AJ is the method of Embodiment AH, wherein placing the predetermined volume into the growth compartment does not comprise simultaneously placing the sample into the growth compartment.

    Embodiment AK is the method of Embodiment AJ, wherein placing the sample into the growth compartment occurs after placing the predetermined volume into the growth compartment.

    Embodiment AL is the method of Embodiment AJ, wherein placing the sample into the growth compartment occurs before placing the predefined volume into the growth compartment.

    Embodiment AM is the method of any one of Embodiments AH through AL, wherein placing the sample into the growth compartment comprises placing an additive into the growth compartment.

    Embodiment AN is the method of any one of Embodiments AH through AM, wherein placing the additive into the growth compartment comprise placing an effective amount of a selective agent or an indicator.

    Embodiment AO is the method of Embodiment AN, wherein the effective amount of the selective agent substantially permits growth of Lactic Acid Bacteria in the culture device and the effective amount of selective agent substantially inhibits growth of E. coli, S. aureus, C. sporogenes, C. perfringens, Bacteroides fragilis, Prevotella melaninogencia, and/or Fusobacterium species.

    Embodiment AP is the method of any one of Embodiments AH through AO, wherein incubating the culture device for a period of time comprises incubating the culture device for the period of time in an aerobic atmosphere.

    Embodiment AQ is the method of any one of Embodiments AH through AP wherein, after incubating the culture device, detecting the microbial colony further comprises enumerating one or more optically-detectable colonies in the culture device.

    Embodiment AR is the method of any one of Embodiments AH through AQ, wherein the culture device comprises the indicator reagent disposed in the growth compartment, wherein detecting the microbial colony comprises detecting an optical change associated with the indicator reagent, wherein the optical change is detected proximate the microbial colony.

    Embodiment AS is the method of Embodiment AR, wherein the optical change comprises a color change.

    Embodiment AT is the method of any one of Embodiments AQ through AS, wherein enumerating one or more microbial colonies further comprises distinguishing carbon dioxide-producing colonies from non-carbon dioxide-producing colonies.



    [0123] Objects and advantages of this invention are further illustrated by the following examples, but the particular materials and amounts thereof recited in these examples, as well as other conditions and details, should not be construed to unduly limit this invention.

    EXAMPLES


    Example 1. Preparation of a self-contained anaerobic environment-generating culture device.



    [0124] A self-contained anaerobic environment-generating culture device according to the culture device in FIG. 1 was constructed. The first substrate consisted of 5 mil (0.127 mm) thickness polyester film (MELINEX Grade 377 biaxially-oriented polyester (PET) film, obtained from DuPont Teijin, Chester, VA). A nutrient powder formulation (listed in Table 1) and guar gum (16 g/L) were stirred in deionized water to achieve a substantially uniform mixture. The pH of the mixture was targeted to be 5.8 +/- 0.5 and adjusted with acid or base if needed to meet the target value. The mixture was knife-coated onto the first substrate as described in U.S. Patent No. 4,565,783, and dried for 8 minutes at 210 °F (98.9 °C) in a convection oven. The nutrient layer was coated to a thickness that resulted in a target coating weight (after drying) of 0.56 g/24 in2 (3.6 mg/cm2). After drying, a polyethylene film spacer (Optimum Plastics, Bloomer, WI) approximately 20 mil (0.508 mm) thick was adhered to the dried coating on the first substrate via a thin layer of a pressure-sensitive adhesive (98 wt% isooctyl acrylate copolymerized with 2 wt% acrylic acid). The spacer contained a 2 3/8-inch (6.03 cm) diameter circular opening that defined the hole in the spacer illustrated in FIG. 1. The circular opening defined the perimeter of the growth compartment of the device.

    [0125] Sodium ascorbate (Sigma-Aldrich Corporation, St. Louis, Mo) and sodium bicarbonate (Sigma- Aldrich Corporation) were individually milled and then passed through a 140 mesh sieve (resulting particle size less than 106 micron). A homogeneous mixture of guar gum (89.75 wt%, available from DuPont Danisco, Copenhagen, Denmark), sieved sodium ascorbate (10 wt%), and sieved sodium bicarbonate (0.25 wt%) was prepared. The second substrate consisted of clear polyester (PET) film (0.073 mm thick) that was coated on one side with a second pressure sensitive adhesive (96 wt% isooctyl acrylate copolymerized with 4% acrylamide) to a coat weight of 0.2 g/24 in2 (1.3 mg/cm2). The homogeneous mixture of guar gum, sieved sodium ascorbate, and sieved sodium bicarbonate was then powder coated onto the adhesive of the second substrate. The second substrate was attached to the first substrate along one edge using a double-sided adhesive tape and the devices were cut into approximately 3" (7.6 cm) by 4" (10.1 cm) rectangles similar to those shown in FIG. 1. The coated side of the second substrate was oriented to face the spacer and growth compartment.
    Table 1. Nutrient powder formulation used to coat first substrate of the device of Example 1.
    ComponentAmount (g/L)Source
    Enzymatic digest of casein 10 Alpha Biosciences, Baltimore, MD
    Porcine peptone 10 Alpha Biosciences, Baltimore, MD
    Yeast extract 4 Alpha Biosciences, Baltimore, MD
    Ammonium citrate 1 Avantor, Center Valley, PA
    Sodium acetate 2.5 EMD Millipore, Billerica, MA
    Neutral red dye 0.1 Sigma-Aldrich Corp, St. Louis, MO
    Magnesium sulfate heptahydrate 0.2 Avantor, Center Valley, PA
    Manganese sulfate monohydrate 0.05 EMD Millipore, Billerica, MA
    2-(N-morpholino)ethanesulfonic acid 23.45 Avantor, Center Valley, PA
    2-(N-morpholino)ethanesulfonic acid sodium salt 7.05 Amresco, Solon, OH
    Glucose 20 Hardy Diagnostics, Santa Maria, CA
    Maltose 20 Amresco, Solon, OH
    Polyoxyethylenesorbitan monooleate 1.08 Amresco, Solon, OH
    Amphotericin B 0.01 Sigma-Aldrich Corp, St. Louis, MO

    Example 2



    [0126] A self-contained anaerobic environment-generating culture device was prepared according to the description of Example 1 with the exception that instead of coating with the powder mixture of Example 1 the adhesive of the second substrate was coated with a powder mixture of guar gum (89.7 wt%), sodium ascorbate (10 wt%), and sodium bicarbonate (0.3 wt%).

    Example 3



    [0127] A self-contained anaerobic environment-generating culture device was prepared according to the description of Example 1 with the exception that instead of coating with the powder mixture of Example 1 the adhesive of the second substrate was coated with a powder mixture of guar gum (89.5 wt%), sodium ascorbate (10 wt%), and sodium bicarbonate (0.5 wt%).

    Example 4



    [0128] A self-contained anaerobic environment-generating culture device was prepared according to the description of Example 1 with the exception that instead of coating with the powder mixture of Example 1 the adhesive of the second substrate was coated with a powder mixture of guar gum (89.0 wt%), sodium ascorbate (10 wt%), and sodium bicarbonate (1.0 wt%).

    Example 5



    [0129] A self-contained anaerobic environment-generating culture device was prepared according to the description of Example 1 with the exception that instead of coating with the powder mixture of Example 1 the adhesive of the second substrate was coated with a powder mixture of guar gum (88.0 wt%), sodium ascorbate (10 wt%), and sodium bicarbonate (2.0 wt%).

    Example 6. CO2 Concentration Measurements in Devices of Examples 1-5



    [0130] The self-contained anaerobic environment-generating culture devices of Examples 1-5 were monitored for CO2 generation using a pCO2 mini v2 fiber optic transmitter (PreSens Precision Sensing GmbH, Regensburg, DE cat# 200001207) with vendor provided software for CO2 tension measurement. Each device was opened by lifting the coversheet to expose the growth region of the growth compartment. One milliliter of sterile Butterfield's buffer was deposited into the growth compartment of each plate. A thin CO2 sensor (5mm in diameter and 200 microns thick) (Planar pCO2 Minisensor Spot, PreSens Precision Sensing GmbH, cat# 200001178) was immediately placed into the hydrated growth compartment and the coversheet was gently lowered until it contacted the hydrated growth region and the spacer. A flat, plastic spreader was pressed on the closed device to spread the liquid throughout the growth compartment. After closing the device, the fluorescence from the sensor was monitored using a polymer optical fiber cable to the transmitter. Measurements of CO2 concentration in the hydrated growth compartment were recorded immediately after closing the device and 90 minutes later. In Table 2 the mean fold increase in CO2 concentration measured after 90 minutes is reported (n=5).
    Table 2.
    Culture DeviceFold Increase in Measured CO2 Concentration
    Example 1 3.9
    Example 2 9.4
    Example 3 5.5
    Example 4 4.2
    Example 5 9.2

    Example 7. Preparation and use of a self-contained anaerobic environment-generating culture device.



    [0131] A self-contained anaerobic environment-generating culture device according to the culture device in FIG. 1 was constructed. The first substrate was coated and prepared according to the procedure described in Example 1 with the only exception that guar gum (14 g/L) was combined with the nutrient formulation of Table 3 instead of the formulation in Table 1.

    [0132] Sodium ascorbate (Sigma-Aldrich Corporation, St. Louis, Mo) and sodium bicarbonate (Sigma- Aldrich Corporation) were individually milled and then passed through a 140 mesh sieve (resulting particle size less than 106 micron). A homogeneous mixture of guar gum (89.7 wt%, available from DuPont Danisco, Copenhagen, Denmark), sieved sodium ascorbate (10 wt%), and sieved sodium bicarbonate (0.3 wt%) was prepared. The second substrate consisted of clear polyester (PET) film (0.073 mm thick) that was coated on one side with a second pressure sensitive adhesive (96 wt% isooctyl acrylate copolymerized with 4% acrylamide) to a coat weight of 0.2 g/24 in2 (1.3 mg/cm2). A trace amount of triphenyl tetrazolium chloride (about 0.48 mg/24 in2 (0.003 mg/cm2)) was incorporated in the adhesive. The homogeneous mixture of guar gum, sieved sodium ascorbate, and sieved sodium bicarbonate was then powder coated onto the adhesive of the second substrate. The second substrate was attached to the first substrate along one edge using a double-sided adhesive tape and the devices were cut into approximately 3" (7.6 cm) by 4" (10.1 cm) rectangles similar to those shown in FIG. 1. The coated side of the second substrate was oriented to face the spacer and growth compartment.

    [0133] Individual samples of the bacterial strains Lactobacillus species, Leuconostoc mesenteroides ssp mesenteroides, Leuconostoc mesenteroides ssp dextranicum, Lactobacillus brevis, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus delbruekii, Streptococcus alactolyticus, Lactococcus garvieae, and Pediococcus acidilactici were obtained as natural isolates from food samples. Individual suspensions were prepared in Butterfield's buffer and serially diluted to obtain final suspensions having concentrations (of individual organisms) that provided CFU counts of about 100. One milliliter of each suspension was used to inoculate individual culture devices made according to the Example. The culture devices were inoculated by lifting the coversheet to expose the growth region of the growth compartment, pipetting the one milliliter suspension into the growth compartment, gently lowering the coversheet until it contacted the suspension and the spacer, and gently pressing a flat plastic spreader onto the closed device to spread the liquid suspension throughout the growth compartment.

    [0134] After inoculation the culture devices were incubated at 32° C for 48 hours in an aerobic incubator. Following incubation, the red-colored colonies in each culture device were counted by visual examination. The mean colony count (n=2) was determined for each organism.

    [0135] As a comparative reference, agar plates were also inoculated with individual suspensions of the same dilution and volume as used above with the culture device of this Example. The agar plate were prepared using Lactobacilli MRS Agar (Becton Dickinson Corporation, New Franklin, NJ). The agar (70 g) was sequentially suspended in 1L of purified water; boiled for 1 minute to dissolve the powder; autoclaved at 121° C for 15 minutes; and cooled to 45-50° C. The cooled medium (15-20 mL per dish) was then poured into a sterile Petri dishes that contained 1 mL of the individual sample suspension. The inoculum was distributed throughout the medium by rotating the plate in one direction and then the opposite direction. The inoculated dish was then placed in an anaerobic chamber together with a gas-generating sachet (GASPAK EZ Anaerobe Sachet, Becton Dickinson Corp.) that provided an anaerobic atmosphere during the incubation period. The agar plates were incubated at 32° C for 48 hours. Following incubation, the colonies on the plates were counted by visual examination. The mean colony count (n=2) was determined for each organism.

    [0136] In Table 4, the ratio of the mean colony count determined using the culture device of the Example compared to the mean colony count determined using a reference agar plate is displayed for each organism tested [i.e. Ratio = (mean colony count using the culture device of the Example) / (mean colony count using the reference agar plate)].
    Table 3. Nutrient powder formulation used to coat the first substrate of the device of Example 7.
    ComponentAmount (g/L)Source
    Enzymatic digest of casein 10 Alpha Biosciences, Baltimore, MD
    Porcine peptone 10 Alpha Biosciences, Baltimore, MD
    Yeast extract 4 Alpha Biosciences, Baltimore, MD
    Ammonium citrate 1 Avantor, Center Valley, PA
    Sodium acetate 2.5 EMD Millipore, Billerica, MA
    Neutral red dye 0.1 Sigma-Aldrich Corp, St. Louis, MO
    Crystal violet dye 0.002 Sigma-Aldrich Corp, St. Louis, MO
    Magnesium sulfate heptahydrate 0.2 Avantor, Center Valley, PA
    Manganese sulfate monohydrate 0.05 EMD Millipore, Billerica, MA
    2-(N-morpholino)ethanesulfonic acid 18.45 Avantor, Center Valley, PA
    2-(N-morpholino)ethanesulfonic acid sodium salt 12.04 Amresco, Solon, OH
    Glucose 20 Hardy Diagnostics, Santa Maria, CA
    Maltose 20 Amresco, Solon, OH
    Polyoxyethylenesorbitan monooleate 1.08 Amresco, Solon, OH
    Amphotericin B 0.02 Sigma-Aldrich Corp, St. Louis, MO
    Table 4. Colony Count Ratios for the Bacterial Strains of Example 7 [Ratio = (mean colony count using the culture device of Example 7) / (mean colony using the reference agar plate)]
     Ratio
    Lactobacillus species 0.95
    Leuconostoc mesenteroides ssp mesenteroides 1.04
    Leuconostoc mesenteroides ssp dextranicum 0.88
    Lactobacillus brevis 1.31
    Lactobacillus plantarum 1.01
    Lactobacillus delbruekii 1.11
    Streptococcus alactolyticus 1.24
    Lactococcus garvieae 0.85
    Pediococcus acidilactici 0.99

    Example 8. Preparation of a self-contained microaerophilic environment-generating culture device.



    [0137] A self-contained microaerophilic environment-generating culture device according to the culture device in FIG. 1 was constructed. The base consisted of 5 mil (0.127 mm) thickness polyester film (MELINEX Grade 377 biaxially-oriented polyester (PET) film, obtained from DuPont Teijin). A nutrient powder formulation (listed in Table 5) and guar gum (13 g/L) were stirred in deionized water to achieve a substantially uniform mixture. The pH of the mixture was targeted to be 7.2 +/- 0.5 and adjusted with acid or base if needed to meet the target value. The mixture was knife-coated onto the base as described in U.S. Patent No. 4,565,783, and dried for 9 minutes at 210 °F (98.9 °C) in a convection oven. The nutrient layer was coated to a thickness that resulted in a target coating weight (after drying) of 0.325 g/24 in2 (2.1 mg/cm2). After drying, a polyethylene film spacer member (Optimum Plastics) approximately 20 mil (0.508 mm) thick was adhered to the dried coating on the first substrate via a thin layer of a pressure-sensitive adhesive (98 wt% isooctyl acrylate copolymerized with 2 wt% acrylic acid). The spacer member contained a 2-inch (5.1 cm) diameter circular opening that defined the location of the growth compartment of the device.

    [0138] Sodium ascorbate (Sigma-Aldrich) and sodium bicarbonate (Sigma- Aldrich) were individually milled and then passed through a 140 mesh sieve (resulting particle size less than 106 micron). A homogeneous mixture of guar gum (99.15 wt%, available from DuPont Danisco), sieved sodium ascorbate (0.25 wt%), and sieved sodium bicarbonate (0.6 wt%) was prepared. The coversheet consisted of clear polyester (PET) film (0.073 mm thick) that was coated on one side with a second pressure sensitive adhesive (96 wt% isooctyl acrylate copolymerized with 4% acrylamide) to a coat weight of 0.2 g/24 in2 (1.3 mg/cm2). The homogeneous mixture of guar gum, sieved sodium ascorbate, and sieved sodium bicarbonate was then powder coated onto the adhesive of the coversheet. The coversheet was attached to the first substrate along one edge using a double-sided adhesive tape and the devices were cut into approximately 3" (7.6 cm) by 4" (10.1 cm) rectangles similar to those shown in FIG. 1. The coated side of the coversheet was oriented to face the spacer member and growth compartment.

    Example 9. Preparation of a self-contained microaerophilic environment-generating culture device.



    [0139] Self-contained anaerobic environment-generating culture devices were constructed using the procedure as described in Example 8 with the exception that instead of coating with the powder mixture of Example 8 the adhesive of the coversheet was coated with a powder mixture of guar gum (97.25 wt%), sodium ascorbate (0.25 wt%), and sodium bicarbonate (2.5 wt%).

    Example 10. Preparation of a self-contained microaerophilic environment-generating culture device.



    [0140] Self-contained anaerobic environment-generating culture devices were constructed using the procedure as described in Example 8 with the exception that instead of coating with the powder mixture of Example 8 the adhesive of the coversheet was coated with a powder mixture of guar gum (95.75 wt%), sodium ascorbate (0.25 wt%), and sodium bicarbonate (4 wt%).
    Table 5. Nutrient powder formulation used to coat the base of the device of Example 8.
    ComponentAmount (g/L)Source
    Porcine peptone 10 Alpha Biosciences, Baltimore, MD
    Yeast extract 5 Alpha Biosciences, Baltimore, MD
    Lactalbumin hydrolylsate 5 Alpha Biosciences, Baltimore, MD
    Sodium chloride 5 EMD Millipore, Billerica, MA
    Sodium carbonate 0.6 EMD Millipore, Billerica, MA
    alpha-Ketoglutaric acid 1 Acros Organics, Geel, Belgium
    Sodium pyruvate 0.5 Sigma-Aldrich Corp, St. Louis, MO
    Hemin 0.01 Sigma-Aldrich Corp, St. Louis, MO

    Example 11. CO2 Concentration Measurements in Devices of Examples 8-10



    [0141] The self-contained microaerophilic environment-generating culture devices of Examples 8-10 were monitored for CO2 generation using the procedure described in Example 6. In Table 6 the mean fold increase in CO2 concentration measured after 90 minutes is reported (n=5).
    Table 6.
    Culture DeviceFold Increase in Measured CO2 Concentration
    Example 8 2.4
    Example 9 4.7
    Example 10 5.7

    Example 12. Preparation of a self-contained anaerobic environment-generating culture device.



    [0142] A self-contained anaerobic environment-generating culture device according to the culture device in FIG. 1 was constructed. The base consisted of 5 mil (0.127 mm) thickness polyester film (MELINEX Grade 377 biaxially-oriented polyester (PET) film, obtained from DuPont Teijin). A nutrient powder formulation (listed in Table 7) and guar gum (13 g/L) were stirred in deionized water to achieve a substantially uniform mixture. The pH of the mixture was targeted to be 7.2 +/- 0.5 and adjusted with acid or base if needed to meet the target value. The mixture was knife-coated onto the base as described in U.S. Patent No. 4,565,783, and dried for 8 minutes at 210 °F (98.9 °C) in a convection oven. The nutrient layer was coated to a thickness that resulted in a target coating weight (after drying) of 0.348 g/24 in2 (2.25 mg/cm2). After drying, a polyethylene film spacer member (Optimum Plastics) approximately 20 mil (0.508 mm) thick was adhered to the dried coating on the base via a thin layer of a pressure-sensitive adhesive (98 wt% isooctyl acrylate copolymerized with 2 wt% acrylic acid). The spacer member contained a 2 3/8-inch (6.0 cm) diameter circular opening that defined the location of the growth compartment of the device.

    [0143] Sodium ascorbate (Sigma-Aldrich) and sodium bicarbonate (Sigma- Aldrich) were individually milled and then passed through a 140 mesh sieve (resulting particle size less than 106 micron). A homogeneous mixture of guar gum (89 wt%, available from DuPont Danisco), sieved sodium ascorbate (10 wt%), and sieved sodium bicarbonate (1 wt%) was prepared. The coversheet consisted of clear polyester (PET) film (0.073 mm thick) that was coated on one side with a second pressure sensitive adhesive (96 wt% isooctyl acrylate copolymerized with 4% acrylamide) to a coat weight of 0.2 g/24 in2 (1.3 mg/cm2). The homogeneous mixture of guar gum, sieved sodium ascorbate, and sieved sodium bicarbonate was then powder coated onto the adhesive of the coversheet. The coversheet was attached to the base along one edge using a double-sided adhesive tape and the devices were cut into approximately 3" (7.6 cm) by 4" (10.1 cm) rectangles similar to those shown in FIG. 1. The coated side of the coversheet was oriented to face the spacer member and the growth compartment.
    Table 7. Nutrient powder formulation used to coat the first substrate of the device of Example 12.
    ComponentAmount (g/L)Source
    Brain Heart Infusion 74 Becton Dickinson Corp, New Franklin, NJ
    Yeast extract 10 Alpha Biosciences, Baltimore, MD
    L-Cysteine 1 Sigma-Aldrich Corp, St. Louis, MO
    Iron(II) sulfate heptahydrate 1 Sigma-Aldrich Corp, St. Louis, MO
    Sodium thioglycolate 0.2 Sigma-Aldrich Corp, St. Louis, MO
    Sodium taurocholate 1 Alfa Aesar, Ward Hill, MA
    Sodium sulfite 0.5 Sigma-Aldrich Corp, St. Louis, MO
    Ascorbate oxidase 4000 units/L Calzyme Laboratories, San Luis Obispo, CA

    Example 13. Preparation of a self-contained anaerobic environment-generating culture device.



    [0144] Self-contained anaerobic environment-generating culture devices were constructed using the procedure as described in Example 12 with the exception that instead of coating with the powder mixture of Example 12 the adhesive of the coversheet was coated with a powder mixture of guar gum (87. 5 wt%), sodium ascorbate (10 wt%), and sodium bicarbonate (2.5 wt%).

    Example 14. Preparation of a self-contained anaerobic environment-generating culture device.



    [0145] Self-contained anaerobic environment-generating culture devices were constructed using the procedure as described in Example 12 with the exception that instead of coating with the powder mixture of Example 12 the adhesive of the coversheet was coated with a powder mixture of guar gum (85 wt%), sodium ascorbate (10 wt%), and sodium bicarbonate (5 wt%).

    Example 15. Preparation of a self-contained anaerobic environment-generating culture device.



    [0146] Self-contained anaerobic environment-generating culture devices were constructed using the procedure as described in Example 12 with the exception that instead of coating with the powder mixture of Example 12 the adhesive of the coversheet was coated with a powder mixture of guar gum (80 wt%), sodium ascorbate (10 wt%), and sodium bicarbonate (10 wt%).

    Example 16. CO2 Concentration Measurements in Devices of Examples 12-15



    [0147] The self-contained anaerobic environment-generating culture devices of Examples 12-15 were monitored for CO2 generation using the procedure described in Example 6. In Table 8 the mean fold increase in CO2 concentration measured after 90 minutes is reported (n=5).
    Table 8.
    Culture DeviceFold Increase in Measured CO2 Concentration
    Example 12 9.0
    Example 13 4.6
    Example 14 9.6
    Example 15 15.0



    Claims

    1. A culture device for enumerating colonies of microorganisms, the device comprising:

    a base having opposing inner and outer surfaces;

    a coversheet having opposing inner and outer surfaces;

    a spacer member disposed between the base and the cover sheet, wherein the spacer member is coupled to the base or the coversheet, wherein the spacer member comprises an aperture that defines a shape and a depth of a growth compartment, wherein the spacer member and the growth compartment are disposed between the inner surface of the base and the inner surface of the coversheet;

    a first adhesive layer adhered to the base in the growth compartment or a second adhesive layer adhered to the coversheet in the growth compartment;

    an effective amount of a dry carbon dioxide-generating reagent adhered to the first adhesive layer or the second adhesive layer in the growth compartment; and

    a dry, cold-water-soluble gelling agent adhered to the base or the coversheet in the growth compartment

    wherein the coversheet is coupled to the base or to the spacer member.


     
    2. The culture device of claim 1, wherein the carbon dioxide-generating reagent consists essentially of particles having a diameter of less than 106 microns.
     
    3. The culture device of claim 1 or claim 2, further comprising an effective amount of a dry oxygen-scavenging reagent adhered to the first adhesive layer or the second adhesive layer in the growth compartment adhered to the first adhesive layer or the second adhesive layer, wherein the oxygen-scavenging reagent consists essentially of particles having a diameter of less than 106 microns.
     
    4. The culture device of any one of the preceding claims, wherein the spacer member is nonporous.
     
    5. The culture device of any one of the preceding claims, further comprising an effective amount of a dry buffer reagent disposed in the growth compartment.
     
    6. The culture device of any one of the preceding claims, further comprising a dry nutrient to facilitate growth of a target microorganism, wherein the nutrient is adhered to the base or the coversheet in the growth compartment and further comprising a first indicator reagent for detecting growth of a target anaerobic microorganism.
     
    7. The culture device of any one of the preceding claims, further comprising an effective amount of a selective agent to inhibit growth of a non-target microorganism, wherein the selective agent is adhered to the base or the coversheet in the growth compartment.
     
    8. The culture device of any one of the preceding claims, further comprising an effective amount of a reducing agent, wherein the reducing agent is adhered to the base or the coversheet in the growth compartment.
     
    9. The culture device of any one of the preceding claims:

    wherein the inner surface of the base has the first adhesive adhered thereto;

    wherein one or more first component disposed in the growth compartment is adhered to the first adhesive;

    wherein the first component is selected from the group consisting of the gelling agent, the oxygen-scavenging reagent, the buffer reagent, the nutrient, the indicator reagent, the selective agent, the reducing agent, and a combination of any two or more of the foregoing first components.


     
    10. The culture device of any one of the preceding claims, further comprising a second indicator reagent disposed in fluid communication with the growth compartment, wherein the second indicator reagent indicates a presence of non-target microorganisms and target microorganisms.
     
    11. A method of detecting a microorganism in a sample, the method comprising:

    placing the culture device of any one of the preceding claims into an open configuration that provides access to the growth compartment therein;

    placing a predefined volume of aqueous liquid into the growth compartment;

    placing a sample into the growth compartment;

    closing the culture device;
    wherein placing the aqueous liquid and the sample into the growth compartment and closing the culture device comprises forming a semi-solid microbial culture medium enclosed by the base, the coversheet, and the spacer of the culture device;

    incubating the culture device for a period of time sufficient to permit formation of a microbial colony in the culture medium; and

    detecting the microbial colony.


     
    12. The method of claim 11, wherein closing the culture device comprises leaving an open fluid pathway from a gaseous environment outside the culture device to the semisolid microbial culture medium enclosed in the growth compartment.
     
    13. The method of claim 11 or claim 12, wherein placing the sample into the growth compartment comprises placing an additive into the growth compartment, wherein the additive comprises an effective amount of a selective agent or an indicator for detecting microbial growth.
     
    14. The method of claim 13, wherein the effective amount of the selective agent substantially permits growth of lactic acid bacteria in the culture device and the effective amount of selective agent substantially inhibits growth of E. coli, S. aureus, C. sporogenes, C. perfringens, Bacteroides fragilis, Prevotella melaninogencia, and/or a Fusobacterium species.
     
    15. The method of any one of claims 13 through 14 wherein, after incubating the culture device, detecting the microbial colony further comprises enumerating one or more optically-detectable colonies in the culture device and
    wherein enumerating one or more microbial colonies further comprises distinguishing carbon dioxide-producing colonies from non-carbon dioxide-producing colonies.
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Kulturvorrichtung zum Zählen von Kolonien von Mikroorganismen, wobei die Vorrichtung Folgendes umfasst:

    eine Basis mit gegenüberliegenden Innen- und Außenoberflächen;

    eine Abdeckplatte mit gegenüberliegenden Innen- und Außenoberflächen;

    ein Abstandshalterelement, das zwischen der Basis und der Abdeckplatte angeordnet ist, wobei das Abstandshalterelement mit der Basis oder der Abdeckplatte gekoppelt ist, wobei das Abstandshalterelement eine Öffnung aufweist, die eine Form und eine Tiefe einer Anzuchtkammer definiert, wobei das Abstandshalterelement und die Anzuchtkammer zwischen der Innenoberfläche der Basis und der Innenoberfläche der Abdeckplatte angeordnet sind;

    eine erste Kleberschicht, die an der Basis in der Anzuchtkammer angehaftet ist, oder eine zweite Kleberschicht, die an der Abdeckplatte in der Anzuchtkammer angehaftet ist;

    eine wirksame Menge eines trockenen Kohlendioxid erzeugenden Reagens, das an der ersten Kleberschicht oder der zweiten Kleberschicht in der Anzuchtkammer haftet; und

    ein trockenes, kaltwasserlösliches Geliermittel, das an der Basis oder der Abdeckplatte in der Anzuchtkammer angehaftet ist,

    und wobei die Abdeckplatte mit der Basis oder mit dem Abstandshalterelement gekoppelt ist.


     
    2. Kulturvorrichtung nach Anspruch 1, wobei das Kohlendioxid erzeugende Reagens im Wesentlichen aus Teilchen mit einem Durchmesser von weniger als 106 Mikrometern besteht.
     
    3. Kulturvorrichtung nach Anspruch 1 oder Anspruch 2, ferner umfassend eine wirksame Menge eines trockenen, sauerstoffbindenden Reagens, das an die erste Kleberschicht oder die zweite Kleberschicht in der Anzuchtkammer angehaftet ist, an die erste Kleberschicht oder die zweite Kleberschicht angehaftet, wobei das sauerstoffbindende Reagens im Wesentlichen aus Teilchen mit einem Durchmesser von weniger als 106 Mikrometern besteht.
     
    4. Kulturvorrichtung nach einem der vorstehenden Ansprüche, wobei das Abstandshalterelement nichtporös ist.
     
    5. Kulturvorrichtung nach einem der vorstehenden Ansprüche, die ferner eine wirksame Menge eines trockenen Pufferreagens umfasst, das in der Anzuchtkammer angeordnet ist.
     
    6. Kulturvorrichtung nach einem der vorstehenden Ansprüche, die ferner einen trockenen Nährstoff umfasst, um das Wachstum eines Zielmikroorganismus zu erleichtern, wobei der Nährstoff an die Basis oder die Abdeckplatte in der Anzuchtkammer angehaftet ist, und ferner ein erstes Indikatorreagens zum Detektieren des Wachstums eines anaeroben Zielmikroorganismus umfasst.
     
    7. Kulturvorrichtung nach einem der vorstehenden Ansprüche, die ferner eine wirksame Menge eines selektiven Mittels umfasst, um das Wachstum eines Nicht-Zielmikroorganismus zu hemmen, wobei das selektive Mittel an die Basis oder die Abdeckplatte in der Anzuchtkammer angehaftet ist.
     
    8. Kulturvorrichtung nach einem der vorstehenden Ansprüche, die ferner eine wirksame Menge eines Reduktionsmittels umfasst, wobei das Reduktionsmittel an die Basis oder die Abdeckplatte in der Anzuchtkammer angehaftet ist.
     
    9. Kulturvorrichtung nach einem der vorstehenden Ansprüche:

    wobei an die Innenoberfläche der Basis der erste Kleber angehaftet ist;

    wobei eine oder mehrere erste Komponenten, die in der Anzuchtkammer angeordnet sind, an dem ersten Kleber anhaften;

    wobei die erste Komponente ausgewählt ist aus der Gruppe, bestehend aus dem Geliermittel, dem sauerstoffbindenden Reagens, dem Pufferreagens, dem Nährstoff, dem Indikatorreagens, dem selektiven Mittel, dem Reduktionsmittel und einer Kombination von zwei oder mehr der vorstehenden ersten Komponenten.


     
    10. Kulturvorrichtung nach einem der vorstehenden Ansprüche, die ferner ein zweites Indikatorreagens umfasst, das in Fluidverbindung mit der Anzuchtkammer angeordnet ist, wobei das zweite Indikatorreagens die Anwesenheit von Nicht-Zielmikroorganismen und Zielmikroorganismen anzeigt.
     
    11. Verfahren zum Detektieren eines Mikroorganismus in einer Probe, wobei das Verfahren Folgendes umfasst:

    Platzieren der Kulturvorrichtung nach einem der vorstehenden Ansprüche in eine offene Konfiguration, die einen Zugang zu der Anzuchtkammer darin bereitstellt;

    Platzieren eines vordefinierten Volumens einer wässrigen Flüssigkeit in die Anzuchtkammer;

    Platzieren einer Probe in die Anzuchtkammer;

    Schließen der Kulturvorrichtung;

    wobei das Platzieren der wässrigen Flüssigkeit und der Probe in die Anzuchtkammer und das Schließen der Kulturvorrichtung das Bilden eines halbfesten, mikrobiellen Kulturmediums umfasst, das von der Basis, der Abdeckplatte und dem Abstandshalter der Kulturvorrichtung umschlossen wird;

    Inkubieren der Kulturvorrichtung für einen Zeitraum, der ausreichend ist, um die Bildung einer mikrobiellen Kolonie in dem Kulturmedium zu erlauben; und

    Detektieren der mikrobiellen Kolonie.


     
    12. Verfahren nach Anspruch 11, wobei das Schließen der Kulturvorrichtung das Belassen eines offenen Fluidweges von einer gasförmigen Umgebung außerhalb der Kulturvorrichtung zu dem halbfesten, mikrobiellen Kulturmedium umfasst, das in der Anzuchtkammer eingeschlossen ist.
     
    13. Verfahren nach Anspruch 11 oder Anspruch 12, wobei das Platzieren der Probe in die Anzuchtkammer das Platzieren eines Zusatzstoffes in die Anzuchtkammer umfasst, wobei der Zusatzstoff eine wirksame Menge eines selektiven Mittels oder eines Indikators zum Detektieren von mikrobiellem Wachstum umfasst.
     
    14. Verfahren nach Anspruch 13, wobei die wirksame Menge des selektiven Mittels im Wesentlichen das Wachstum von Milchsäurebakterien in der Kulturvorrichtung erlaubt und die wirksame Menge an selektivem Mittel im Wesentlichen das Wachstum von E. coli, S. aureus, C. sporogenes, C. perfringens, Bacteroides fragilis, Prevotella melaninogencia und/oder einer Fusobacterium-Art hemmt.
     
    15. Verfahren nach einem der Ansprüche 13 bis 14, wobei nach dem Inkubieren der Kulturvorrichtung ein Detektieren der mikrobiellen Kolonie ferner das Zählen von einer oder mehreren optisch detektierbaren Kolonien in der Kulturvorrichtung umfasst, und
    wobei das Zählen der einen oder mehreren mikrobiellen Kolonien ferner das Unterscheiden von Kohlendioxid erzeugenden Kolonien von nicht Kohlendioxid erzeugenden Kolonien umfasst.
     


    Revendications

    1. Dispositif de culture pour le dénombrement de colonies de micro-organismes, le dispositif comprenant :

    une base ayant des surfaces interne et externe opposées ;

    une feuille de couverture ayant des surfaces interne et externe opposées ;

    un élément d'espacement disposé entre la base et la feuille de couverture, dans lequel l'élément d'espacement est couplé à la base ou à la feuille de couverture, dans lequel l'élément d'espacement comprend une ouverture qui définit une forme et une profondeur d'un compartiment de croissance, dans lequel l'élément d'espacement et le compartiment de croissance sont disposés entre la surface interne de la base et la surface interne de la feuille de couverture ;

    une première couche adhésive fixée par adhérence sur la base dans le compartiment de croissance ou une deuxième couche adhésive fixée par adhérence à la feuille de couverture dans le compartiment de croissance ;

    une quantité efficace d'un réactif générant du dioxyde de carbone sec fixé par adhérence à la première couche adhésive ou à la deuxième couche adhésive dans le compartiment de croissance ; et

    un agent gélifiant sec, soluble dans l'eau froide fixé par adhérence à la base ou à la feuille de couverture dans le compartiment de croissance

    dans lequel la feuille de couverture est couplée à la base ou à l'élément d'espacement.


     
    2. Dispositif de culture selon la revendication 1, dans lequel le réactif générant du dioxyde de carbone est constitué sensiblement de particules ayant un diamètre inférieur à 106 micromètres.
     
    3. Dispositif de culture selon la revendication 1 ou la revendication 2, comprenant en outre une quantité efficace d'un réactif d'absorption d'oxygène sec fixé par adhérence à la première couche adhésive ou à la deuxième couche adhésive dans le compartiment de croissance fixé par adhérence à la première couche adhésive ou à la deuxième couche adhésive, dans lequel le réactif d'absorption d'oxygène est constitué sensiblement de particules ayant un diamètre inférieur à 106 micromètres.
     
    4. Dispositif de culture selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel l'élément d'espacement est non poreux.
     
    5. Dispositif de culture selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, comprenant en outre une quantité efficace d'un réactif tampon sec disposé dans le compartiment de croissance.
     
    6. Dispositif de culture selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, comprenant en outre un nutriment sec pour faciliter la croissance d'un micro-organisme cible, dans lequel le nutriment est fixé par adhérence à la base ou à la feuille de couverture dans le compartiment de croissance et comprenant en outre un premier réactif indicateur pour détecter la croissance d'un micro-organisme anaérobie cible.
     
    7. Dispositif de culture selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, comprenant en outre une quantité efficace d'un agent sélectif pour inhiber la croissance d'un micro-organisme non cible, dans lequel l'agent sélectif est fixé par adhérence à la base ou à la feuille de couverture dans le compartiment de croissance.
     
    8. Dispositif de culture selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, comprenant en outre une quantité efficace d'un agent réducteur, dans lequel l'agent réducteur est fixé par adhérence à la base ou à la feuille de couverture dans le compartiment de croissance.
     
    9. Dispositif de culture selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes :

    dans lequel la surface interne de la base a le premier adhésif fixé par adhérence à celle-ci ;

    dans lequel un ou plusieurs premiers composants disposés dans le compartiment de croissance sont fixés par adhérence au premier adhésif ;

    dans lequel le premier composant est choisi dans le groupe constitué de l'agent gélifiant, le réactif d'absorption d'oxygène, le réactif tampon, le nutriment, le réactif indicateur, l'agent sélectif, l'agent réducteur, et une combinaison de n'importe quels premiers composants qui précèdent au nombre de deux ou plus.


     
    10. Dispositif de culture selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, comprenant en outre un deuxième réactif indicateur disposé en communication fluidique avec le compartiment de croissance, dans lequel le deuxième réactif indicateur indique une présence de micro-organismes non cibles et de micro-organismes cibles.
     
    11. Procédé de détection d'un micro-organisme dans un échantillon, le procédé comprenant :

    la mise en place du dispositif de culture selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes dans une configuration ouverte qui fournit un accès au compartiment de croissance en son sein ;

    la mise en place d'un volume prédéfini de liquide aqueux dans le compartiment de croissance ;

    la mise en place d'un échantillon dans le compartiment de croissance ;

    la fermeture du dispositif de culture ;

    dans lequel la mise en place du liquide aqueux et de l'échantillon dans le compartiment de croissance et la fermeture du dispositif de culture comprennent la formation d'un milieu de culture microbienne semi-solide enfermé par la base, la feuille de couverture et l'élément d'espacement du dispositif de culture ;

    l'incubation du dispositif de culture pendant un laps de temps suffisant pour permettre la formation d'une colonie microbienne dans le milieu de culture ; et

    la détection de la colonie microbienne.


     
    12. Procédé selon la revendication 11, dans lequel la fermeture du dispositif de culture comprend le fait de laisser une voie de fluide ouverte depuis un environnement gazeux à l'extérieur du dispositif de culture jusqu'au milieu de culture microbienne semi-solide enfermé dans le compartiment de croissance.
     
    13. Procédé selon la revendication 11 ou la revendication 12, dans lequel la mise en place de l'échantillon dans le compartiment de croissance comprend la mise en place d'un additif dans le compartiment de croissance, dans lequel l'additif comprend une quantité efficace d'un agent sélectif ou d'un indicateur pour détecter une croissance microbienne.
     
    14. Procédé selon la revendication 13, dans lequel la quantité efficace de l'agent sélectif permet essentiellement la croissance de bactéries d'acide lactique dans le dispositif de culture et la quantité efficace d'agent sélectif inhibe essentiellement la croissance d'E. coli, S. aureus, C. sporogenes, C. perfringens, Bacteroides fragilis, Prevotella melaninogencia, et/ou d'une espèce Fusobacterium.
     
    15. Procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications 13 à 14, dans lequel, après incubation du dispositif de culture, la détection de la colonie microbienne comprend en outre le dénombrement d'une ou plusieurs colonies optiquement détectables dans le dispositif de culture et dans lequel le dénombrement d'une ou plusieurs colonies microbiennes comprend en outre la différenciation des colonies productrices de dioxyde de carbone par rapport aux colonies non productrices de dioxyde de carbone.
     




    Drawing









    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



    This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

    Patent documents cited in the description