Research paper: Development and validation of a new microplate assay that utilises optical density to quantify the antibacterial activity of honeys including Jarrah, Marri and Manuka

CRC researchers Kate Hammer, Kathryn Green, and Kenneth Dods have published a paper in PLoS ONE about a new method for quantifying the antibacterial activity of honey.

Their new microplate assay was created to address some of the shortcomings of the current industry-standard phenol equivalence assay. Through various tests, the researchers have deemed this new method to be a promising alternative.

Abstract

The phenol equivalence assay is the current industry-adopted test used to quantify the antibacterial activity of honeys in Australia and New Zealand. Activity is measured based on the diffusion of honey through agar and resulting zone of growth inhibition. Due to differences in the aqueous solubilities of antibacterial compounds found in honeys, this method may not be optimal for quantifying activity. Therefore, a new method was developed based on the existing broth microdilution assay that is widely used for determining minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs). It utilises the four organisms Staphylococcus aureus ATCC 29213, Enterococcus faecalis ATCC 29212, Escherichia coli ATCC 25922 and Pseudomonas aeruginosa ATCC 27853, and an optical density endpoint to quantify bacterial growth. Decreases in bacterial growth in the presence of honey, relative to the positive growth control, are then used to derive a single value to represent the overall antibacterial activity of each honey. Antibacterial activity was quantified for a total of 77 honeys using the new method, the phenol equivalence assay and the standard broth microdilution assay. This included 69 honeys with undisclosed floral sources and the comparators Manuka, Jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata), Marri (Corymbia calophylla), artificial and multifloral honey. For the 69 honey samples, phenol equivalence values ranged from 0–48.5 with a mean of 34 (% w/v phenol). Mean MICs, determined as the average of the MICs obtained for each of the four organisms for each honey ranged from 7–24% (w/v honey). Using the new assay, values for the 69 honeys ranged from 368 to 669 activity units, with a mean of 596. These new antibacterial activity values correlated closely with mean MICs (R2 = 0.949) whereas the relationship with phenol equivalence values was weaker (R2 = 0.649). Limit of detection, limit of quantitation, measuring interval, limit of reporting, sensitivity, selectivity, repeatability, reproducibility, and ruggedness were also investigated and showed that the new assay was both robust and reproducible.

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Citation: Green KJ, Dods K, Hammer KA (2020) Development and validation of a new microplate assay that utilises optical density to quantify the antibacterial activity of honeys including Jarrah, Marri and Manuka. PLoS ONE 15(12): e0243246. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0243246

Photo of Kate and Kathryn by Ian and Erick