The potential of using flow cytometry (FCM) in combination with fluorescent dyes for rapidly estimating counts of yeasts and malolactic bacteria in laboratory media and wines was examined. In general, there was a good correlation (regression coefficient, 0.94) between viable counts of yeasts determined by FCM and by standard plate assay. The FCM detection limit of yeasts in YPDE medium and in Pinot noir must was 103 cells/ml. The lowest bacterial concentration detected by FCM was 104 cells/ml. When yeast and malolactic bacteria populations were simultaneously analysed in wine by FCM without any previous sample treatment, difficulties were encountered in the count of bacterial cells due to their size, which is similar to natural debries present in wine. However, after the optimisation of the sample preparation, the technique appeared promising in determining the presence of such microorganisms in wine with one single measurement. Because it is rapid and easy to use, flow cytometry can be considered a useful method for microbiological quality control in wineries and for the investigation of the growth dynamics of microorganisms in wine.
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