WARF: P09079US02

Non-Toxic Clostridium Botulinum Strains for Assessing Botulinal Food Safety


Eric Johnson, Marite Bradshaw, Kristin Marshall

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in developing strains of Clostridium botulinum with an inactivated botulinal neurotoxin gene for microbial challenge testing.
OVERVIEWClostridium botulinum produces the most poisonous toxin known and is a perennial concern to the food industry.  Several outbreaks of botulism have occurred due to changes in food processing procedures and formulations.

Microbial challenge testing is a useful tool for determining the ability of a food to support the growth of pathogens like C. botulinum.  Rigorous microbial challenge testing is performed routinely using a mouse bioassay or in vitro assays to ensure the botulinal safety of foods and to validate processes designed to kill or attenuate C. botulinum.   

However, few facilities have been approved for testing with toxigenic strains of C. botulinum.  Surrogate microorganisms can be used in place of C. botulinum, but they may respond differently to testing.
THE INVENTIONUW-Madison researchers have developed stable, mutant strains of C. botulinum in which the botulinal neurotoxin gene has been inactivated.  These strains could be used for challenge studies to validate different food processing conditions and testing new food formulations.
  • Microbial challenge testing of foods and food processing methods
  • By providing a better method of assessing the botulinal safety of foods, these strains could lead to enhanced public health.
  • Testing could be performed in many laboratories, rather than the select few currently approved for testing with toxigenic strains of C. botulinum.
  • Mutant strains retain all characteristics of C. botulinum except its toxicity.
  • Through their use in in vitro assays, these strains could minimize the use of animals in challenge testing.
For More Information About the Inventors
Contact Information
For current licensing status, please contact Andy DeTienne at or 608-960-9857.
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