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Publication date: 25 October 2012
Author(s): Michael J. Miller, President, Microbiology Consultants, LLC and Noe Miyashita, Researcher, Hitachi Plant Technologies, Ltd

Rapid micro methods and the next generation in ATP bioluminescence

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This is the fifth paper in our continuing series on Rapid Microbiological Methods (RMM) that will appear in European Pharmaceutical Review during 2012. As many of you know, I am always on the lookout for the next generation of rapid microbiological method (RMM) technologies and solutions. In this article, I have invited Noe Miyashita, a researcher from Hitachi Plant Technologies, to describe a novel ATP bioluminescence technology platform that she and her colleagues are currently working on. But in order to frame this discussion, it is appropriate to provide some background material on the fundamental basics of ATP bioluminescent methods.

ATP bioluminescence is the generation of light by a biological process, and is most recognised in the tails of the American firefly Photinus pyralis. First discovered in 1947 by William McElroy, he described the ATP bioluminescence reaction in which ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) is enzymatically consumed to produce light. Specifically, in the presence of the substrate luciferin, the enzyme luciferase will use the energy from ATP to oxidise luciferin and release photons (light at a wavelength of 562 nanometres). The photons can then be detected and measured by a luminometer equipped with a photomultiplier tube. Figure 1 provides an illustration of this chemical reaction.

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