This work investigates the application of reflectance Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) microscopic imaging for rapid, and non-invasive detection and classification between Bacillus subtilis
and Escherichia coli
cell suspensions dried onto metallic substrates (stainless steel (STS) and aluminium (Al) slides) in the optical density (OD) concentration range of 0.001 to 10. Results showed that reflectance FTIR of samples with OD lower than 0.1 did not present an acceptable spectral signal to enable classification. Two modelling strategies were devised to evaluate model performance, transferability and consistency among concentration levels. Modelling strategy 1 involves training the model with half of the sample set, consisting of all concentrations, and applying it to the remaining half. Using this approach, for the STS substrate, the best model was achieved using support vector machine (SVM) classification, providing an accuracy of 96% and Matthews correlation coefficient (MCC) of 0.93 for the independent test set. For the Al substrate, the best SVM model produced an accuracy and MCC of 91% and 0.82, respectively. Furthermore, the aforementioned best model built from one substrate was transferred to predict the bacterial samples deposited on the other substrate. Results revealed an acceptable predictive ability when transferring the STS model to samples on Al (accuracy = 82%). However, the Al model could not be adapted to bacterial samples deposited on STS (accuracy = 57%). For modelling strategy 2, models were developed using one concentration level and tested on the other concentrations for each substrate. Results proved that models built from samples with moderate (1 OD) concentration can be adapted to other concentrations with good model generalization. Prediction maps revealed the heterogeneous distribution of biomolecules due to the coffee ring effect. This work demonstrated the feasibility of applying FTIR to characterise spectroscopic fingerprints of dry bacterial cells on substrates of relevance for food processing.
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