The commercially available LIVE/DEAD BacLight kit is enjoying increased popularity among researchers in various fields of microbiology. Its use in combination with flow cytometry brought up new questions about how to interpret LIVE/DEAD staining results. Intermediate states, normally difficult to detect with epifluorescence microscopy, are a common phenomenon when the assay is used in flow cytometry and still lack rationale. It is shown here that the application of propidium iodide in combination with a green fluorescent total nucleic acid stain on UVA-irradiated cells of Escherichia coli, Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium, Shigella flexneri, and a community of freshwater bacteria resulted in a clear and distinctive flow cytometric staining pattern. In the gram-negative bacterium E. coli as well as in the two enteric pathogens, the pattern can be related to the presence of intermediate cellular states characterized by the degree of damage afflicted specifically on the bacterial outer membrane. This hypothesis is supported by the fact that EDTA-treated nonirradiated cells exhibit the same staining properties. On the contrary, this pattern was not observed in gram-positive Enterococcus faecalis, which lacks an outer membrane. Our observations add a new aspect to the LIVE/DEAD stain, which so far was believed to be dependent only on cytoplasmic membrane permeability.
Total bacterial abundances estimated with different epifluorescence microscopy methods (4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole [DAPI], SYBR Green, and Live/Dead) and with flow cytometry (Syto13) showed good correspondence throughout two microcosm experiments with coastal Mediterranean water. In the Syto13-stained samples we could differentiate bacteria with apparent high DNA (HDNA) content and bacteria with apparent low DNA (LDNA) content. HDNA bacteria, “live” bacteria (determined as such with the Molecular Probes Live/Dead BacLight bacterial viability kit), and nucleoid-containing bacteria (NuCC) comprised similar fractions of the total bacterial community. Similarly, LDNA bacteria and “dead” bacteria (determined with the kit) comprised a similar fraction of the total bacterial community in one of the experiments. The rates of change of each type of bacteria during the microcosm experiments were also positively correlated between methods. In various experiments where predator pressure on bacteria had been reduced, we detected growth of the HDNA bacteria without concomitant growth of the LDNA bacteria, such that the percentage contribution of HDNA bacteria to total bacterial numbers (%HDNA) increased. This indicates that the HDNA bacteria are the dynamic members of the bacterial assemblage. Given how quickly and easily the numbers of HDNA and LDNA bacteria can be obtained, and given the similarity to the numbers of “live” cells and NuCC, the %HDNA is suggested as a reference value for the percentage of actively growing bacteria in marine planktonic environments.
A fluorescence method to monitor lysis of cheese starter bacteria using dual staining with the LIVE/DEAD BacLight bacterial viability kit is described. This kit combines membrane-permeant green fluorescent nucleic acid dye SYTO 9 and membrane-impermeant red fluorescent nucleic acid dye propidium iodide (PI), staining damaged membrane cells fluorescent red and intact cells fluorescent green. For evaluation of the fluorescence method, cells of Lactococcus lactis MG1363 were incubated under different conditions and subsequently labeled with SYTO 9 and PI and analyzed by flow cytometry and epifluorescence microscopy. Lysis was induced by treatment with cell wall-hydrolyzing enzyme mutanolysin. Cheese conditions were mimicked by incubating cells in a buffer with high protein, potassium, and magnesium, which stabilizes the cells. Under nonstabilizing conditions a high concentration of mutanolysin caused complete disruption of the cells. This resulted in a decrease in the total number of cells and release of cytoplasmic enzyme lactate dehydrogenase. In the stabilizing buffer, mutanolysin caused membrane damage as well but the cells disintegrated at a much lower rate. Stabilizing buffer supported permeabilized cells, as indicated by a high number of PI-labeled cells. In addition, permeable cells did not release intracellular aminopeptidase N, but increased enzyme activity was observed with the externally added and nonpermeable peptide substrate lysyl-p-nitroanilide. Finally, with these stains and confocal scanning laser microscopy the permeabilization of starter cells in cheese could be analyzed.
Studies were carried out to assess the influence of nutrients, dissolved oxygen (DO) concentration, and nickel (Ni) on river biofilm development, structure, function, and community composition. Biofilms were cultivated in rotating annular reactors with river water at a DO concentration of 0.5 or 7.5 mg liter−1, with or without a combination of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus (CNP) and with or without Ni at 0.5 mg liter−1. The effects of Ni were apparent in the elimination of cyanobacterial populations and reduced photosynthetic biomass in the biofilm. Application of lectin-binding analyses indicated changes in exopolymer abundance and a shift in the glycoconjugate makeup of the biofilms, as well as in the response to all treatments. Application of the fluorescent live-dead staining (BacLight Live-Dead staining kit; Molecular Probes, Eugene, Oreg.) indicated an increase in the ratio of live to dead cells under low-oxygen conditions. Nickel treatments had 50 to 75% fewer ‘live’ cells than their corresponding controls. Nickel at 0.5 mg liter−1 corresponding to the industrial release rate concentration for nickel resulted in reductions in carbon utilization spectra relative to control and CNP treatments without nickel. In these cases, the presence of nickel eliminated the positive influence of nutrients on the biofilm. Other culture-dependent analyses (plate counts and most probable number) revealed no significant treatment effect on the biofilm communities. In the presence of CNP and at both DO levels, Ni negatively affected denitrification but had no effect on hexadecane mineralization or sulfate reduction. Analysis of total community DNA indicated abundant eubacterial 16S ribosomal DNA (rDNA), whereas Archaea were not detected. Amplification of the alkB gene indicated a positive effect of CNP and a negative effect of Ni. The nirS gene was not detected in samples treated with Ni at 0.5 mg liter−1, indicating a negative effect on specific populations of bacteria, such as denitrifiers, resulting in a reduction in diversity. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis revealed that CNP had a beneficial impact on biofilm bacterial diversity at high DO concentrations, but none at low DO concentrations, and that the negative effect of Ni on diversity was similar at both DO concentrations. Notably, Ni resulted in the appearance of unique bands in 16S rDNA from Ni, DO, and CNP treatments. Sequencing results confirmed that the bands belonged to bacteria originating from freshwater and marine environments or from agricultural soils and industrial effluents. The observations indicate that significant interactions occur between Ni, oxygen, and nutrients and that Ni at 0.5 mg liter−1 may have significant impacts on river microbial community diversity and function.
We developed a double-staining procedure involving NanoOrange dye (Molecular Probes, Eugene, Oreg.) and membrane integrity stains (LIVE/DEAD BacLight kit; Molecular Probes) to show the morphological and membrane integrity changes of Campylobacter coli cells during growth. The conversion from a spiral to a coccoid morphology via intermediary forms and the membrane integrity changes of the C. coli cells can be detected with the double-staining procedure. Our data indicate that young or actively growing cells are mainly spiral shaped (green-stained cells), but older cells undergo a degenerative change to coccoid forms (red-stained cells). Club-shaped transition cell forms were observed with NanoOrange stain. Chlorinated drinking water affected the viability but not the morphology of C. coli cells.
The chronic nature of many diseases is attributed to the formation of bacterial biofilms which are recalcitrant to traditional antibiotic therapy. Biofilms are community-associated bacteria attached to a surface and encased in a matrix. The role of the extracellular matrix is multifaceted, including facilitating nutrient acquisition, and offers significant protection against environmental stresses (e.g. host immune responses). In an effort to acquire a better understanding as to how the bacteria within a biofilm respond to environmental stresses we have used a protocol wherein we visualize bacterial biofilms which have formed in an 8-well chamber slide. The biofilms were stained with the BacLight Live/Dead stain and examined using a confocal microscope to characterize the relative biofilm size, and structure under varying incubation conditions. Z-stack images were collected via confocal microscopy and analyzed by COMSTAT. This protocol can be used to help elucidate the mechanism and kinetics by which biofilms form, as well as identify components that are important to biofilm structure and stability.
Complement-mediated killing of bacteria was monitored by flow cytometric, luminometric, and conventional plate counting methods. A flow cytometric determination of bacterial viability was carried out by using dual staining with a LIVE/DEAD BacLight bacterial viability kit. In addition to the viable cell population, several other populations emerged in the fluorescence histogram, and there was a dramatic decrease in the total cell count in the light-scattering histogram in the course of the complement reaction. To permit luminometric measurements, Bacillus subtilis and Escherichia coli were made bioluminescent by expressing an insect luciferase gene. Addition of substrate after the complement reaction resulted in bioluminescence, the level of which was a measure of the viable cell population. All three methods gave essentially the same killing rate, suggesting that the bacteriolytic activity of serum complement can be measured rapidly and conveniently by using viability stains or bioluminescence. In principle, any bacterial strain can be used for viability staining and flow cytometric analysis. For the bioluminescence measurements genetically engineered bacteria are needed, but the advantage is that it is possible to screen automatically a large number of samples.
The isolation of viable extremely halophilic archaea from 250-million-year-old rock salt suggests the possibility of their long-term survival under desiccation. Since halite has been found on Mars and in meteorites, haloarchaeal survival of martian surface conditions is being explored. Halococcus dombrowskii H4 DSM 14522T was exposed to UV doses over a wavelength range of 200–400 nm to simulate martian UV flux. Cells embedded in a thin layer of laboratory-grown halite were found to accumulate preferentially within fluid inclusions. Survival was assessed by staining with the LIVE/DEAD kit dyes, determining colony-forming units, and using growth tests. Halite-embedded cells showed no loss of viability after exposure to about 21 kJ/m2, and they resumed growth in liquid medium with lag phases of 12 days or more after exposure up to 148 kJ/m2. The estimated D37 (dose of 37 % survival) for Hcc. dombrowskii was ≥ 400 kJ/m2. However, exposure of cells to UV flux while in liquid culture reduced D37 by 2 orders of magnitude (to about 1 kJ/m2); similar results were obtained with Halobacterium salinarum NRC-1 and Haloarcula japonica. The absorption of incoming light of shorter wavelength by color centers resulting from defects in the halite crystal structure likely contributed to these results. Under natural conditions, haloarchaeal cells become embedded in salt upon evaporation; therefore, dispersal of potential microscopic life within small crystals, perhaps in dust, on the surface of Mars could resist damage by UV radiation.
Halococcus dombrowskii; Simulated martian UV radiation; LIVE/DEAD staining; Halite fluid inclusions; UV transmittance and reflectance; Desiccation
Escherichia coli O157:H7 can persist for days to weeks in microcosms simulating natural conditions. In this study, we used a suite of fluorescent, in situ stains and probes to assess the influence of starvation on physiological activity based on membrane potential (rhodamine 123 assay), membrane integrity (LIVE/DEAD BacLight kit), respiratory activity (5-cyano-2,3-di-4-tolyl-tetrazolium chloride assay), intracellular esterase activity (ScanRDI assay), and 16S rRNA content. Growth-dependent assays were also used to assess substrate responsiveness (direct viable count [DVC] assay), ATP activity (MicroStar assay), and culturability (R2A agar assay). In addition, resistance to chlorine disinfection was assessed. After 14 days of starvation, the DVC values decreased, while the values in all other assays remained relatively constant and equivalent to each other. Chlorine resistance progressively increased through the starvation period. After 29 days of starvation, there was no significant difference in chlorine resistance between control cultures that had not been exposed to the disinfectant and cultures that had been exposed. This study demonstrates that E. coli O157:H7 adapts to starvation conditions by developing a chlorine resistance phenotype.
The mode by which Helicobacter pylori, the causative agent of most gastric ulcers, is transmitted remains undetermined. Epidemiological evidence suggests these organisms are waterborne; however, H. pylori has rarely been grown from potential water sources. This may be due to the ability of this organism to rapidly enter the viable but nonculturable (VBNC) state. Our investigation examines the entrance of H. pylori into this state in laboratory cultures and a natural freshwater environment as well as the relationship between morphology and culturability. To this end, membrane diffusion chambers were utilized to expose the cells to the natural fluctuations of a freshwater stream. In both the laboratory and environment, samples were assayed for culturability using plate counts and stained using a LIVE/DEAD BacLight assay for viability and morphological determinations. Additionally, water samples were collected, six environmental parameters were measured, and resuscitation conditions were examined. H. pylori was observed to lose culturability in the laboratory and stream, although viability was maintained. While the results of our study agree with those of previous studies which suggested that there is a transition in morphology from rods to cocci as culturability is lost, the morphological distribution of cells did not change as culturability was lost in the environment. The majority of cells in the VBNC state in the laboratory are cocci; however, all morphological forms were present in the environment. The results of these studies suggest that H. pylori persists in laboratory cultures and the environment in the VBNC state and that cells in this state represent a public health hazard.
The viability of the human probiotic strains Lactobacillus paracasei NFBC 338 and Bifidobacterium sp. strain UCC 35612 in reconstituted skim milk was assessed by confocal scanning laser microscopy using the LIVE/DEAD BacLight viability stain. The technique was rapid (<30 min) and clearly differentiated live from heat-killed bacteria. The microscopic enumeration of various proportions of viable to heat-killed bacteria was then compared with conventional plating on nutrient agar. Direct microscopic enumeration of bacteria indicated that plate counting led to an underestimation of bacterial numbers, which was most likely related to clumping. Similarly, LIVE/DEAD BacLight staining yielded bacterial counts that were higher than cell numbers obtained by plate counting (CFU) in milk and fermented milk. These results indicate the value of the microscopic approach for rapid viability testing of such probiotic products. In contrast, the numbers obtained by direct microscopic counting for Cheddar cheese and spray-dried probiotic milk powder were lower than those obtained by plate counting. These results highlight the limitations of LIVE/DEAD BacLight staining and the need to optimize the technique for different strain-product combinations. The minimum detection limit for in situ viability staining in conjunction with confocal scanning laser microscopy enumeration was ∼108 bacteria/ml (equivalent to ∼107 CFU/ml), based on Bifidobacterium sp. strain UCC 35612 counts in maximum-recovery diluent.
Various medium compositions (phosphate, 1 to 50 mM; ionic strength, 2.8 to 150 meq/liter) significantly affected Nitrosomonas europaea monochloramine disinfection kinetics, as determined by the Live/Dead BacLight (LD) and propidium monoazide quantitative PCR (PMA-qPCR) methods (lag coefficient, 37 to 490 [LD] and 91 to 490 [PMA-qPCR] mg·min/liter; Chick-Watson rate constant, 4.0 × 10−3 to 9.3 × 10−3 [LD] and 1.6 × 10−3 to 9.6 × 10−3 [PMA-qPCR] liter/mg·min). Two competing effects may account for the variation in disinfection kinetic parameters: (i) increasing kinetics (disinfection rate constant [k] increased, lag coefficient [b] decreased) with increasing phosphate concentration and (ii) decreasing kinetics (k decreased, b increased) with increasing ionic strength. The results support development of a standard medium for evaluating disinfection kinetics in drinking water.
Successful long-term preservation of Mycobacterium tuberculosis cells is important for sample transport, research, biobanking, and the development of new drugs, vaccines, biomarkers, and diagnostics. In this report, Mycobacterium
bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin and M. tuberculosis H37Ra were used as models of M. tuberculosis complex strains to study cryopreservation of M. tuberculosis complex cells in diverse sample matrices at different cooling rates. Cells were cryopreserved in diverse sample matrices, namely, phosphate-buffered saline (PBS), Middlebrook 7H9 medium with or without added glycerol, and human sputum. The efficacy of cryopreservation was quantified by microbiological culture and microscopy with BacLight LIVE/DEAD staining. In all sample matrices examined, the microbiological culture results showed that the cooling rate was the most critical factor influencing cell viability. Slow cooling (a few degrees Celsius per minute) resulted in much higher M. tuberculosis complex recovery rates than rapid cooling (direct immersion in liquid nitrogen) (P < 0.05). Among the three defined cryopreservation media (PBS, 7H9, and 7H9 plus glycerol), there was no significant differential effect on viability (P = 0.06 to 0.87). Preincubation of thawed M. tuberculosis complex cells in 7H9 broth for 20 h before culture on solid Middlebrook 7H10 plates did not help the recovery of the cells from cryoinjury (P = 0.14 to 0.71). The BacLight LIVE/DEAD staining kit, based on Syto 9 and propidium iodide (PI), was also applied to assess cell envelope integrity after cryopreservation. Using the kit, similar percentages of “live” cells with intact envelopes were observed for samples cryopreserved under different conditions, which was inconsistent with the microbiological culture results. This implies that suboptimal cryopreservation might not cause severe damage to the cell wall and/or membrane but instead cause intracellular injury, which leads to the loss of cell viability.
Dental-unit water systems (DUWS) harbor bacterial biofilms, which may serve as a haven for pathogens. The aim of this study was to investigate the microbial load of water from DUWS in general dental practices and the biofouling of DUWS tubing. Water and tube samples were taken from 55 dental surgeries in southwestern England. Contamination was determined by viable counts on environmentally selective, clinically selective, and pathogen-selective media, and biofouling was determined by using microscopic and image analysis techniques. Microbial loading ranged from 500 to 105 CFU · ml−1; in 95% of DUWS water samples, it exceeded European Union drinking water guidelines and in 83% it exceeded American Dental Association DUWS standards. Among visible bacteria, 68% were viable by BacLight staining, but only 5% of this “viable by BacLight” fraction produced colonies on agar plates. Legionella pneumophila, Mycobacterium spp., Candida spp., and Pseudomonas spp. were detected in one, five, two, and nine different surgeries, respectively. Presumptive oral streptococci and Fusobacterium spp. were detected in four and one surgeries, respectively, suggesting back siphonage and failure of antiretraction devices. Hepatitis B virus was never detected. Decontamination strategies (5 of 55 surgeries) significantly reduced biofilm coverage but significantly increased microbial numbers in the water phase (in both cases, P < 0.05). Microbial loads were not significantly different in DUWS fed with soft, hard, deionized, or distilled water or in different DUWS (main, tank, or bottle fed). Microbiologically, no DUWS can be considered “cleaner” than others. DUWS deliver water to patients with microbial levels exceeding those considered safe for drinking water.
Streptococcus mutans, the major pathogen responsible for dental caries in humans, is a biofilm-forming bacterium. In the present study, 17 different pulsed-field gel electrophoresis patterns of genomic DNA were identified in S. mutans organisms isolated clinically from whole saliva. The S. mutans isolates showed different abilities to form biofilms on polystyrene surfaces in semidefined minimal medium cultures. Following cultivation in a flow cell system in tryptic soy broth with 0.25% sucrose and staining using a BacLight LIVE/DEAD system, two strains, designated FSC-3 and FSC-4, showed the greatest and least, respectively, levels of biofilm formation when examined with confocal laser scanning microscopy. Further, image analyses of spatial distribution and architecture were performed to quantify the merged green (live cells) and red (dead cells) light. The light intensity of the FSC-3 biofilm was greater than that of the FSC-4 biofilm in the bottom area but not in the top area. S. mutans whole-genome array results showed that approximately 3.8% of the genes were differentially expressed in the two strains, of which approximately 2.2%, including bacitracin transport ATP-binding protein gene glrA and a BLpL-like putative immunity protein gene, were activated in FSC-3. In addition, about 1.6% of the genes, including those associated with phosphotransferase system genes, were repressed. Analyses of the glrA-deficient strains and reverse transcription-PCR confirmed the role of the gene in biofilm formation. Differential assessment of biofilm-associated genes in clinical strains may provide useful information for understanding the morphological development of streptococcal biofilm, as well as for colonization of S. mutans.
Halophilic archaebacteria (haloarchaea) thrive in environments with salt concentrations approaching saturation, such as natural brines, the Dead Sea, alkaline salt lakes and marine solar salterns; they have also been isolated from rock salt of great geological age (195–250 million years). An overview of their taxonomy, including novel isolates from rock salt, is presented here; in addition, some of their unique characteristics and physiological adaptations to environments of low water activity are reviewed. The issue of extreme long-term microbial survival is considered and its implications for the search for extraterrestrial life. The development of detection methods for subterranean haloarchaea, which might also be applicable to samples from future missions to space, is presented.
Extreme halophiles; Haloarchaea; Life detection; Microbial longevity; Salt mines; Salt sediments; Space missions; Subterranean; Taxonomy of halobacteriaceae
The nitrogen cycle (N-cycle), principally supported by prokaryotes, involves different redox reactions mainly focused on assimilatory purposes or respiratory processes for energy conservation. As the N-cycle has important environmental implications, this biogeochemical cycle has become a major research topic during the last few years. However, although N-cycle metabolic pathways have been studied extensively in Bacteria or Eukarya, relatively little is known in the Archaea. Halophilic Archaea are the predominant microorganisms in hot and hypersaline environments such as salted lakes, hot springs or salted ponds. Consequently, the denitrifying haloarchaea that sustain the nitrogen cycle under these conditions have emerged as an important target for research aimed at understanding microbial life in these extreme environments.
The haloarchaeon Haloferax mediterranei was isolated 20 years ago from Santa Pola salted ponds (Alicante, Spain). It was described as a denitrifier and it is also able to grow using NO3-, NO2- or NH4+ as inorganic nitrogen sources. This review summarizes the advances that have been made in understanding the N-cycle in halophilic archaea using Hfx mediterranei as a haloarchaeal model. The results obtained show that this microorganism could be very attractive for bioremediation applications in those areas where high salt, nitrate and nitrite concentrations are found in ground waters and soils.
The systematic understanding of how various antimicrobial agents are involved in controlling biofilms is essential in order to establish an effective strategy for biofilm control, since many antimicrobial agents are effective against planktonic cells but are ineffective when they are used against the same bacteria growing in a biofilm state. Three different antimicrobial agents (chlorine, silver, and tobramycin) and three different methods for the measurement of membrane integrity (plate counts, the measurement of respiratory activity with 5-cyano-2,3-ditolyl tetrazolium chloride [CTC] staining, and BacLight Live/Dead staining) were used along with confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) and epifluorescence microscopy to examine the activities of the antimicrobials on biofilms in a comparative way. The three methods of determining the activities of the antimicrobials gave very different results for each antimicrobial agent. Among the three antimicrobials, tobramycin appeared to be the most effective in reducing the respiratory activity of biofilm cells, based upon CTC staining. In contrast, tobramycin-treated biofilm cells maintained their membrane integrity better than chlorine- or silver-treated ones, as evidenced by imaging by both CLSM and epifluorescence microscopy. Combined and sequential treatments with silver and tobramycin showed an enhanced antimicrobial efficiency of more than 200%, while the antimicrobial activity of either chlorine or tobramycin was antagonized when the agents were used in combination. This observation makes sense when the different oxidative reactivities of chlorine, silver, and tobramycin are considered.
Wolbachia pipientis is an obligate intracellular bacterium found in a wide range of invertebrate taxa. While over ecological timescales Wolbachia infections are maintained by strict maternal inheritance, horizontal transfer events are common over evolutionary time. To be horizontally transferred between organisms, Wolbachia bacteria must pass through and survive an extracellular phase. We used BacLight live-dead staining, PCR, and fluorescence in situ hybridization to assess the ability for purified Wolbachia bacteria to survive in cell-free media. We found that purified Wolbachia bacteria were able to survive extracellularly for up to 1 week with no decrease in viability. While no replication was observed in the extracellular phase, purified Wolbachia bacteria were able to reinvade cells and establish stable infections at all time points. The ability of Wolbachia bacteria to survive outside host cells may increase the probability of successful horizontal transfer and the exploitation of new ecological niches. Our development of methods to purify and maintain viable Wolbachia bacteria from cultured cells will be useful for other researchers studying Wolbachia biology.
Media-based bacteriological testing will fail to detect non-culturable organisms and the risk of consuming viable but non-culturable (VBNC) Listeria monocytogenes is unknown. We have here studied whether L. monocytogenes obtained from seafoods, processing environment and clinical cases enter the VBNC state and assessed the virulence of the non-culturable forms of the bacteria. A number of 16 L. monocytogenes strains were starved in microcosm water at 4 °C until loss of culturability. Metabolic activity in the VBNC form was measured as ATP generation using a luciferase assay and membrane integrity was examined using the LIVE/DEAD BacLight assay. All tested L. monocytogenes strains entered the VBNC state after starvation in microcosm water. Ongoing mRNA synthesis of hly in VBNC L. monocytogenes cells re-incubated in culture medium indicated a potential virulence of these forms. Sodium pyruvate and replenishment of nutrient were used in attempts to resuscitate VBNC cells. However, VBNC L. monocytogenes were not resuscitated under these conditions. VBNC L. monocytogenes were tested for virulence in a cell plaque assay and by intraperitoneally inoculation in immunodeficient RAG1−/− mice. Inoculation of VBNC L. monocytogenes in immunodeficient mice did not cause morbidity, and plaque assay on HT-29 cells in culture indicated that the VBNC cells were avirulent. The results indicate that the risk of non-culturable L. monocytogenes in foods, when the VBNC state is induced by starvation, is negligible.
Listeria monocytogenes; VBNC; ATP; mRNA
The significance of antimicrobial substances, halocins, produced by halophilic archaea and bacteria thriving in hypersaline environments is relatively unknown. It is suggested that their production might increase species diversity and give transient competitive advances to the producer strain. Halocin production is considered to be common among halophilic archaea, but there is a lack of information about halocins produced by bacteria in highly saline environments. We studied the antimicrobial activity of 68 halophilic archaea and 22 bacteria isolated from numerous geographically distant hypersaline environments. Altogether 144 antimicrobial interactions were found between the strains and aside haloarchaea, halophilic bacteria from various genera were identified as halocin producers. Close to 80% of the interactions were detected between microorganisms from different genera and in few cases, even across the domain boundary. Several of the strains produced halocins with a wide inhibitory spectrum as has been observed before. Most of the antimicrobial interactions were found between strains from distant sampling sites indicating that hypersaline environments around the world have similar microorganisms with the potential to produce wide activity range antimicrobials.
Antimicrobial substances; halocins; halophilic archaea; halophilic bacteria; hypersaline.
Evidence for the widespread occurrence of extraterrestrial halite, particularly on Mars, has led to speculations on the possibility of halophilic microbial forms of life; these ideas have been strengthened by reports of viable haloarchaea from sediments of geological age (millions of years). Raman spectroscopy, being a sensitive detection method for future astrobiological investigations onsite, has been used in the current study for the detection of nine different extremely halophilic archaeal strains which had been embedded in laboratory-made halite crystals in order to simulate evaporitic conditions. The cells accumulated preferentially in tiny fluid inclusions, in simulation of the precipitation of salt in natural brines. FT-Raman spectroscopy using laser excitation at 1064 nm and dispersive micro Raman spectroscopy at 514.5 nm were applied. The spectra showed prominent peaks at 1507, 1152 and 1002 cm−1 which are attributed to haloarchaeal C50 carotenoid compounds (mainly bacterioruberins). Their intensity varied from strain to strain at 1064-nm laser excitation. Other distinguishable features were peaks due to peptide bonds (amide I, amide III) and to nucleic acids. No evidence for fatty acids was detected, consistent with their general absence in all archaea.
These results contribute to a growing database on Raman spectra of terrestrial microorganisms from hypersaline environments and highlight the influence of the different macromolecular composition of diverse strains on these spectra.
Raman spectroscopy; extremely halophilic archaea; halite; astrobiology; fluid inclusions; carotenoids; bacterioruberins; Martian subsurface
The aim of this study was to compare the effects of certain commercially available mouthwashes on cariogenic bacteria and biofilms, following the acquisition of inhibition potentials of caries.
Materials and Methods:
Mouthwashes containing I) chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG; 0.0005% w/v), II) benzethonium chloride (BTC; 0.01% w/v), III) an essential oil (Listerine), and IV) povidone-iodine (PVP-I; 0.035% w/v) were tested on planktonic cariogenic bacteria, biofilms, and an ex vivo caries model. Bacterial aliquots were inoculated with each solution separately and vortexed for 10 seconds at room temperature. Bacterial viability was subsequently investigated by fluorescence microscopy (FM) after staining with a BacLight viability kit and the number of colony-forming units (CFUs) was counted. Similarly, mouthwash solutions were applied to artificial cariogenic biofilms, and bacterial viability of the biofilms was investigated as stated above. Inhibition potentials of two selected mouthwashes of carious lesions were investigated using biofilm-induced caries and a secondary caries model. In all steps, a phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) solution was included as a control.
Planktonic cariogenic bacteria and bacteria embedded in biofilms were killed in remarkably large numbers with Listerine and PVP-I treatment compared to PBS and other gargles. CFU counts also showed significant reduction after treatment with Listerine and PVP-I compared to other solutions (P<0.05). Listerine also displayed significant (P<0.05) inhibition effects in preventing the progression of demineralization.
Bactericidal potencies of the mouthwashes varied significantly, suggesting that mouthwashes like Listerine can be useful for the prevention of caries and secondary caries.
Cariogenic bacteria; cariogenic biofilms; inhibition of caries and secondary; mouthwashes; prevention of caries and secondary caries.
Chloramination is often the disinfection regimen of choice for extended drinking water systems. However, this process is prone to instability due to the growth of nitrifying bacteria. This is the first study to use alternative approaches for rapid investigation of chloraminated drinking water system instability in which flow cytometric cell sorting of bacteria with intact membranes (membrane-intact fraction) (BacLight kit) or with active esterases (esterase-active fraction) (carboxyfluorescein diacetate) was combined with 16S rRNA gene-directed PCR and denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE). No active bacteria were detected when water left the water treatment plant (WTP), but 12 km downstream the chloramine residual had diminished and the level of active bacteria in the bulk water had increased to more than 1 × 105 bacteria ml−1. The bacterial diversity in the system was represented by six major DGGE bands for the membrane-intact fraction and 10 major DGGE bands for the esterase-active fraction. PCR targeting of the 16S rRNA gene of chemolithotrophic ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) and subsequent DGGE and DNA sequence analysis revealed the presence of an active Nitrosospira-related species and Nitrosomonas cryotolerans in the system, but no AOB were detected in the associated WTP. The abundance of active AOB was then determined by quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) targeting the amoA gene; 3.43 × 103 active AOB ml−1 were detected in the membrane-intact fraction, and 1.40 × 104 active AOB ml−1 were detected in the esterase-active fraction. These values were several orders of magnitude greater than the 2.5 AOB ml−1 detected using a routine liquid most-probable-number assay. Culture-independent techniques described here, in combination with existing chemical indicators, should allow the water industry to obtain more comprehensive data with which to make informed decisions regarding remedial action that may be required either prior to or during an instability event.
To assess interchangeability of estimates of bacterial abundance by different epifluorescence microscopy methods, total bacterial numbers (TBNs) determined by most widely accepted protocols were statistically compared. Bacteria in a set of distinctive samples were stained with acridine orange (AO), 4′-6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI), and BacLight and enumerated by visual counting (VC) and supervised image analysis (IA). Model II regression and Bland-Altman analysis proved general agreements between IA and VC methods, although IA counts tended to be lower than VC counts by 7% on a logarithmic scale. Distributions of cells and latex beads on polycarbonate filters were best fitted to negative binomial models rather than to Poisson or log-normal models. The fitted models revealed higher precisions of TBNs by the IA method than those by the VC method. In pairwise comparisons of the staining methods, TBNs by AO and BacLight staining showed good agreement with each other, but DAPI staining had tendencies of underestimation. Although precisions of the three staining methods were comparable to one another (intraclass correlation coefficients, 0.97 to 0.98), accuracy of the DAPI staining method was rebutted by disproportionateness of TBNs between pairs of samples that carried 2-fold different volumes of identical cell suspensions. It was concluded that the TBN values estimated by AO and BacLight staining are relatively accurate and interchangeable for quantitative interpretation and that IA provides better precision than does VC. As a prudent measure, it is suggested to avoid use of DAPI staining for comparative studies investigating accuracy of novel cell-counting methods.