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7.  Automated Design of Probes for rRNA-Targeted Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization Reveals the Advantages of Using Dual Probes for Accurate Identification 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2014;80(16):5124-5133.
Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) is a common technique for identifying cells in their natural environment and is often used to complement next-generation sequencing approaches as an integral part of the full-cycle rRNA approach. A major challenge in FISH is the design of oligonucleotide probes with high sensitivity and specificity to their target group. The rapidly expanding number of rRNA sequences has increased awareness of the number of potential nontargets for every FISH probe, making the design of new FISH probes challenging using traditional methods. In this study, we conducted a systematic analysis of published probes that revealed that many have insufficient coverage or specificity for their intended target group. Therefore, we developed an improved thermodynamic model of FISH that can be applied at any taxonomic level, used the model to systematically design probes for all recognized genera of bacteria and archaea, and identified potential cross-hybridizations for the selected probes. This analysis resulted in high-specificity probes for 35.6% of the genera when a single probe was used in the absence of competitor probes and for 60.9% when up to two competitor probes were used. Requiring the hybridization of two independent probes for positive identification further increased specificity. In this case, we could design highly specific probe sets for up to 68.5% of the genera without the use of competitor probes and 87.7% when up to two competitor probes were used. The probes designed in this study, as well as tools for designing new probes, are available online (
PMCID: PMC4135741  PMID: 24928876
8.  Identification and Characterization of a Halotolerant, Cold-Active Marine Endo-β-1,4-Glucanase by Using Functional Metagenomics of Seaweed-Associated Microbiota 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2014;80(16):4958-4967.
A metagenomic library was constructed from microorganisms associated with the brown alga Ascophyllum nodosum. Functional screening of this library revealed 13 novel putative esterase loci and two glycoside hydrolase loci. Sequence and gene cluster analysis showed the wide diversity of the identified enzymes and gave an idea of the microbial populations present during the sample collection period. Lastly, an endo-β-1,4-glucanase having less than 50% identity to sequences of known cellulases was purified and partially characterized, showing activity at low temperature and after prolonged incubation in concentrated salt solutions.
PMCID: PMC4135742  PMID: 24907332
9.  Revision of N2O-Producing Pathways in the Ammonia-Oxidizing Bacterium Nitrosomonas europaea ATCC 19718 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2014;80(16):4930-4935.
Nitrite reductase (NirK) and nitric oxide reductase (NorB) have long been thought to play an essential role in nitrous oxide (N2O) production by ammonia-oxidizing bacteria. However, essential gaps remain in our understanding of how and when NirK and NorB are active and functional, putting into question their precise roles in N2O production by ammonia oxidizers. The growth phenotypes of the Nitrosomonas europaea ATCC 19718 wild-type and mutant strains deficient in expression of NirK, NorB, and both gene products were compared under atmospheric and reduced O2 tensions. Anoxic resting-cell assays and instantaneous nitrite (NO2−) reduction experiments were done to assess the ability of the wild-type and mutant N. europaea strains to produce N2O through the nitrifier denitrification pathway. Results confirmed the role of NirK for efficient substrate oxidation of N. europaea and showed that NorB is involved in N2O production during growth at both atmospheric and reduced O2 tensions. Anoxic resting-cell assays and measurements of instantaneous NO2− reduction using hydrazine as an electron donor revealed that an alternate nitrite reductase to NirK is present and active. These experiments also clearly demonstrated that NorB was the sole nitric oxide reductase for nitrifier denitrification. The results of this study expand the enzymology for nitrogen metabolism and N2O production by N. europaea and will be useful to interpret pathways in other ammonia oxidizers that lack NirK and/or NorB genes.
PMCID: PMC4135743  PMID: 24907318
10.  Exposure of Bacillus subtilis to Low Pressure (5 Kilopascals) Induces Several Global Regulons, Including Those Involved in the SigB-Mediated General Stress Response 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2014;80(16):4788-4794.
Studies of how microorganisms respond to pressure have been limited mostly to the extreme high pressures of the deep sea (i.e., the piezosphere). In contrast, despite the fact that the growth of most bacteria is inhibited at pressures below ∼2.5 kPa, little is known of microbial responses to low pressure (LP). To study the global LP response, we performed transcription microarrays on Bacillus subtilis cells grown under normal atmospheric pressure (∼101 kPa) and a nearly inhibitory LP (5 kPa), equivalent to the pressure found at an altitude of ∼20 km. Microarray analysis revealed altered levels of 363 transcripts belonging to several global regulons (AbrB, CcpA, CodY, Fur, IolR, ResD, Rok, SigH, Spo0A). Notably, the highest number of upregulated genes, 86, belonged to the SigB-mediated general stress response (GSR) regulon. Upregulation of the GSR by LP was confirmed by monitoring the expression of the SigB-dependent ctc-lacZ reporter fusion. Measuring transcriptome changes resulting from exposure of bacterial cells to LP reveals insights into cellular processes that may respond to LP exposure.
PMCID: PMC4135744  PMID: 24878601
11.  Nonperturbative Imaging of Nucleoid Morphology in Live Bacterial Cells during an Antimicrobial Peptide Attack 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2014;80(16):4977-4986.
Studies of time-dependent drug and environmental effects on single, live bacterial cells would benefit significantly from a permeable, nonperturbative, long-lived fluorescent stain specific to the nucleoids (chromosomal DNA). The ideal stain would not affect cell growth rate or nucleoid morphology and dynamics, even during laser illumination for hundreds of camera frames. In this study, time-dependent, single-cell fluorescence imaging with laser excitation and a sensitive electron-multiplying charge-coupled-device (EMCCD) camera critically tested the utility of “dead-cell stains” (SYTOX orange and SYTOX green) and “live-cell stains” (DRAQ5 and SYTO 61) and also 4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI). Surprisingly, the dead-cell stains were nearly ideal for imaging live Escherichia coli, while the live-cell stains and DAPI caused nucleoid expansion and, in some cases, cell permeabilization and the halting of growth. SYTOX orange performed well for both the Gram-negative E. coli and the Gram-positive Bacillus subtilis. In an initial application, we used two-color fluorescence imaging to show that the antimicrobial peptide cecropin A destroyed nucleoid-ribosome segregation over 20 min after permeabilization of the E. coli cytoplasmic membrane, reminiscent of the long-term effects of the drug rifampin. In contrast, the human cathelicidin LL-37, while similar to cecropin A in structure, length, charge, and the ability to permeabilize bacterial membranes, had no observable effect on nucleoid-ribosome segregation. Possible underlying causes are suggested.
PMCID: PMC4135745  PMID: 24907320
12.  Following Pathogen Development and Gene Expression in a Food Ecosystem: the Case of a Staphylococcus aureus Isolate in Cheese 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2014;80(16):5106-5115.
Human intoxication or infection due to bacterial food contamination constitutes an economic challenge and a public health problem. Information on the in situ distribution and expression of pathogens responsible for this risk is to date lacking, largely because of technical bottlenecks in detecting signals from minority bacterial populations within a complex microbial and physicochemical ecosystem. We simulated the contamination of a real high-risk cheese with a natural food isolate of Staphylococcus aureus, an enterotoxin-producing pathogen responsible for food poisoning. To overcome the problem of a detection limit in a solid matrix, we chose to work with a fluorescent reporter (superfolder green fluorescent protein) that would allow spatiotemporal monitoring of S. aureus populations and targeted gene expression. The combination of complementary techniques revealed that S. aureus localizes preferentially on the cheese surface during ripening. Immunochemistry and confocal laser scanning microscopy enabled us to visualize, in a single image, dairy bacteria and pathogen populations, virulence gene expression, and the toxin produced. This procedure is readily applicable to other genes of interest, other bacteria, and different types of food matrices.
PMCID: PMC4135746  PMID: 24928871
13.  DegePrime, a Program for Degenerate Primer Design for Broad-Taxonomic-Range PCR in Microbial Ecology Studies 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2014;80(16):5116-5123.
The taxonomic composition of a microbial community can be deduced by analyzing its rRNA gene content by, e.g., high-throughput DNA sequencing or DNA chips. Such methods typically are based on PCR amplification of rRNA gene sequences using broad-taxonomic-range PCR primers. In these analyses, the use of optimal primers is crucial for achieving an unbiased representation of community composition. Here, we present the computer program DegePrime that, for each position of a multiple sequence alignment, finds a degenerate oligomer of as high coverage as possible and outputs its coverage among taxonomic divisions. We show that our novel heuristic, which we call weighted randomized combination, performs better than previously described algorithms for solving the maximum coverage degenerate primer design problem. We previously used DegePrime to design a broad-taxonomic-range primer pair that targets the bacterial V3-V4 region (341F-805R) (D. P. Herlemann, M. Labrenz, K. Jurgens, S. Bertilsson, J. J. Waniek, and A. F. Andersson, ISME J. 5:1571–1579, 2011,, and here we use the program to significantly increase the coverage of a primer pair (515F-806R) widely used for Illumina-based surveys of bacterial and archaeal diversity. By comparison with shotgun metagenomics, we show that the primers give an accurate representation of microbial diversity in natural samples.
PMCID: PMC4135748  PMID: 24928874
14.  Knockout of Extracytoplasmic Function Sigma Factor ECF-10 Affects Stress Resistance and Biofilm Formation in Pseudomonas putida KT2440 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2014;80(16):4911-4919.
Pseudomonas putida is a Gram-negative soil bacterium which is well-known for its versatile lifestyle, controlled by a large repertoire of transcriptional regulators. Besides one- and two-component regulatory systems, the genome of P. putida reveals 19 extracytoplasmic function (ECF) sigma factors involved in the adaptation to changing environmental conditions. In this study, we demonstrate that knockout of extracytoplasmic function sigma factor ECF-10, encoded by open reading frame PP4553, resulted in 2- to 4-fold increased antibiotic resistance to quinolone, β-lactam, sulfonamide, and chloramphenicol antibiotics. In addition, the ECF-10 mutant exhibited enhanced formation of biofilms after 24 h of incubation. Transcriptome analysis using Illumina sequencing technology resulted in the detection of 12 genes differentially expressed (>2-fold) in the ECF-10 knockout mutant strain compared to their levels of expression in wild-type cells. Among the upregulated genes were ttgA, ttgB, and ttgC, which code for the major multidrug efflux pump TtgABC in P. putida KT2440. Investigation of an ECF-10 and ttgA double-knockout strain and a ttgABC-overexpressing strain demonstrated the involvement of efflux pump TtgABC in the stress resistance and biofilm formation phenotypes of the ECF-10 mutant strain, indicating a new role for this efflux pump beyond simple antibiotic resistance in P. putida KT2440.
PMCID: PMC4135749  PMID: 24907323
15.  Alternative Sigma Factors SigF, SigE, and SigG Are Essential for Sporulation in Clostridium botulinum ATCC 3502 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2014;80(16):5141-5150.
Clostridium botulinum produces heat-resistant endospores that may germinate and outgrow into neurotoxic cultures in foods. Sporulation is regulated by the transcription factor Spo0A and the alternative sigma factors SigF, SigE, SigG, and SigK in most spore formers studied to date. We constructed mutants of sigF, sigE, and sigG in C. botulinum ATCC 3502 and used quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR and electron microscopy to assess their expression of the sporulation pathway on transcriptional and morphological levels. In all three mutants the expression of spo0A was disrupted. The sigF and sigE mutants failed to induce sigG and sigK beyond exponential-phase levels and halted sporulation during asymmetric cell division. In the sigG mutant, peak transcription of sigE was delayed and sigK levels remained lower than that in the parent strain. The sigG mutant forespore was engulfed by the mother cell and possessed a spore coat but no peptidoglycan cortex. The findings suggest that SigF and SigE of C. botulinum ATCC 3502 are essential for early sporulation and late-stage induction of sigK, whereas SigG is essential for spore cortex formation but not for coat formation, as opposed to previous observations in B. subtilis sigG mutants. Our findings add to a growing body of evidence that regulation of sporulation in C. botulinum ATCC 3502, and among the clostridia, differs from the B. subtilis model.
PMCID: PMC4135750  PMID: 24928875
16.  Use of Silica-Encapsulated Pseudomonas sp. Strain NCIB 9816-4 in Biodegradation of Novel Hydrocarbon Ring Structures Found in Hydraulic Fracturing Waters 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2014;80(16):4968-4976.
The most problematic hydrocarbons in hydraulic fracturing (fracking) wastewaters consist of fused, isolated, bridged, and spiro ring systems, and ring systems have been poorly studied with respect to biodegradation, prompting the testing here of six major ring structural subclasses using a well-characterized bacterium and a silica encapsulation system previously shown to enhance biodegradation. The direct biological oxygenation of spiro ring compounds was demonstrated here. These and other hydrocarbon ring compounds have previously been shown to be present in flow-back waters and waters produced from hydraulic fracturing operations. Pseudomonas sp. strain NCIB 9816-4, containing naphthalene dioxygenase, was selected for its broad substrate specificity, and it was demonstrated here to oxidize fundamental ring structures that are common in shale-derived waters but not previously investigated with this or related enzymes. Pseudomonas sp. NCIB 9816-4 was tested here in the presence of a silica encasement, a protocol that has previously been shown to protect bacteria against the extremes of salinity present in fracking wastewaters. These studies demonstrate the degradation of highly hydrophobic compounds by a silica-encapsulated model bacterium, demonstrate what it may not degrade, and contribute to knowledge of the full range of hydrocarbon ring compounds that can be oxidized using Pseudomonas sp. NCIB 9816-4.
PMCID: PMC4135751  PMID: 24907321
17.  Epithelial Adhesion Mediated by Pilin SpaC Is Required for Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG-Induced Cellular Responses 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2014;80(16):5068-5077.
Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG is a widely used probiotic, and the strain's salutary effects on the intestine have been extensively documented. We previously reported that strain GG can modulate inflammatory signaling, as well as epithelial migration and proliferation, by activating NADPH oxidase 1-catalyzed generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). However, how strain GG induces these responses is unknown. Here, we report that strain GG's probiotic benefits are dependent on the bacterial-epithelial interaction mediated by the SpaC pilin subunit. By comparing strain GG to an isogenic mutant that lacks SpaC (strain GGΩspaC), we establish that SpaC is necessary for strain GG to adhere to gut mucosa, that SpaC contributes to strain GG-induced epithelial generation of ROS, and that SpaC plays a role in strain GG's capacity to stimulate extracellular signal-regulated kinase/mitogen-activated protein kinase (ERK/MAPK) signaling in enterocytes. In addition, we show that SpaC is required for strain GG-mediated stimulation of cell proliferation and protection against radiologically inflicted intestinal injury. The identification of a critical surface protein required for strain GG to mediate its probiotic influence advances our understanding of the molecular basis for the symbiotic relationship between some commensal bacteria of the gut lumen and enterocytes. Further insights into this relationship are critical for the development of novel approaches to treat intestinal diseases.
PMCID: PMC4135752  PMID: 24928883
18.  Applied Usage of Yeast Spores as Chitosan Beads 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2014;80(16):5098-5105.
In this study, we present a nonhazardous biological method of producing chitosan beads using the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Yeast cells cultured under conditions of nutritional starvation cease vegetative growth and instead form spores. The spore wall has a multilaminar structure with the chitosan layer as the second outermost layer. Thus, removal of the outermost dityrosine layer by disruption of the DIT1 gene, which is required for dityrosine synthesis, leads to exposure of the chitosan layer at the spore surface. In this way, spores can be made to resemble chitosan beads. Chitosan has adsorptive features and can be used to remove heavy metals and negatively charged molecules from solution. Consistent with this practical application, we find that spores are capable of adsorbing heavy metals such as Cu2+, Cr3+, and Cd2+, and removal of the dityrosine layer further improves the adsorption. Removal of the chitosan layer decreases the adsorption, indicating that chitosan works as an adsorbent in the spores. Besides heavy metals, spores can also adsorb a negatively charged cholesterol derivative, taurocholic acid. Furthermore, chitosan is amenable to chemical modifications, and, consistent with this property, dit1Δ spores can serve as a carrier for immobilization of enzymes. Given that yeast spores are a natural product, our results demonstrate that they, and especially dit1Δ mutants, can be used as chitosan beads and used for multiple purposes.
PMCID: PMC4135753  PMID: 24907339
19.  Genomic Heterogeneity and Ecological Speciation within One Subspecies of Bacillus subtilis 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2014;80(16):4842-4853.
Closely related bacterial genomes usually differ in gene content, suggesting that nearly every strain in nature may be ecologically unique. We have tested this hypothesis by sequencing the genomes of extremely close relatives within a recognized taxon and analyzing the genomes for evidence of ecological distinctness. We compared the genomes of four Death Valley isolates plus the laboratory strain W23, all previously classified as Bacillus subtilis subsp. spizizenii and hypothesized through multilocus analysis to be members of the same ecotype (an ecologically homogeneous population), named putative ecotype 15 (PE15). These strains showed a history of positive selection on amino acid sequences in 38 genes. Each of the strains was under a different regimen of positive selection, suggesting that each strain is ecologically unique and represents a distinct ecological speciation event. The rate of speciation appears to be much faster than can be resolved with multilocus sequencing. Each PE15 strain contained unique genes known to confer a function for bacteria. Remarkably, no unique gene conferred a metabolic system or subsystem function that was not already present in all the PE15 strains sampled. Thus, the origin of ecotypes within this clade shows no evidence of qualitative divergence in the set of resources utilized. Ecotype formation within this clade is consistent with the nanoniche model of bacterial speciation, in which ecotypes use the same set of resources but in different proportions, and genetic cohesion extends beyond a single ecotype to the set of ecotypes utilizing the same resources.
PMCID: PMC4135754  PMID: 24907327
20.  Distribution of Virulence-Associated Genes and Genetic Relationships in Non-O1/O139 Vibrio cholerae Aquatic Isolates from China 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2014;80(16):4987-4992.
Non-O1/O139 Vibrio cholerae is naturally present in aquatic ecosystems and has been linked with cholera-like diarrhea and local outbreaks. The distribution of virulence-associated genes and genetic relationships among aquatic isolates from China are largely unknown. In this study, 295 aquatic isolates of V. cholerae non-O1/O139 serogroups from different regions in China were investigated. Only one isolate was positive for ctxB and harbored a rare genotype; 10 (3.4%) isolates carried several types of rstR sequences, eight of which carried rare types of toxin-coregulated pili (tcpA). Furthermore, 16 (5.4%) isolates carried incomplete (with partial open reading frames [ORFs]) vibrio seventh pandemic island I (VSP-I) or VSP-II clusters, which were further classified as 11 novel types. PCR-based analyses revealed remarkable variations in the distribution of putative virulence genes, including mshA (95.6%), hlyA (95.3%), rtxC (89.8%), rtxA (82.7%), IS1004 (52.9%), chxA (30.2%), SXT (15.3%), type III secretion system (18.0%), and NAG-ST (3.7%) genes. There was no correlation between the prevalence of putative virulence genes and that of CTX prophage or TCP genes, whereas there were correlations among the putative virulence genes. Further multilocus sequence typing (MLST) placed selected isolates (n = 70) into 69 unique sequence types (STs), which were different from those of the toxigenic O1 and O139 counterparts, and each isolate occupied a different position in the MLST tree. The V. cholerae non-O1/O139 aquatic isolates predominant in China have high genotypic diversity; these strains constitute a reservoir of potential virulence genes, which may contribute to evolution of pathogenic isolates.
PMCID: PMC4135755  PMID: 24907334
21.  Antifouling Coatings Influence both Abundance and Community Structure of Colonizing Biofilms: a Case Study in the Northwestern Mediterranean Sea 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2014;80(16):4821-4831.
When immersed in seawater, substrates are rapidly colonized by both micro- and macroorganisms. This process is responsible for important economic and ecological prejudices, particularly when related to ship hulls or aquaculture nets. Commercial antifouling coatings are supposed to reduce biofouling, i.e., micro- and macrofoulers. In this study, biofilms that primarily settled on seven different coatings (polyvinyl chloride [PVC], a fouling release coating [FRC], and five self-polishing copolymer coatings [SPC], including four commercial ones) were quantitatively studied, after 1 month of immersion in summer in the Toulon Bay (Northwestern Mediterranean Sea, France), by using flow cytometry (FCM), microscopy, and denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis. FCM was used after a pretreatment to separate cells from the biofilm matrix, in order to determine densities of heterotrophic bacteria, picocyanobacteria, and pico- and nanoeukaryotes on these coatings. Among diatoms, the only microphytobenthic class identified by microscopy, Licmophora, Navicula, and Nitzschia were determined to be the dominant taxa. Overall, biocide-free coatings showed higher densities than all other coatings, except for one biocidal coating, whatever the group of microorganisms. Heterotrophic bacteria always showed the highest densities, and diatoms showed the lowest, but the relative abundances of these groups varied depending on the coating. In particular, the copper-free SPC failed to prevent diatom settlement, whereas the pyrithione-free SPC exhibited high picocyanobacterial density. These results highlight the interest in FCM for antifouling coating assessment as well as specific selection among microbial communities by antifouling coatings.
PMCID: PMC4135756  PMID: 24907329
22.  Vertebrate Decomposition Is Accelerated by Soil Microbes 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2014;80(16):4920-4929.
Carrion decomposition is an ecologically important natural phenomenon influenced by a complex set of factors, including temperature, moisture, and the activity of microorganisms, invertebrates, and scavengers. The role of soil microbes as decomposers in this process is essential but not well understood and represents a knowledge gap in carrion ecology. To better define the role and sources of microbes in carrion decomposition, lab-reared mice were decomposed on either (i) soil with an intact microbial community or (ii) soil that was sterilized. We characterized the microbial community (16S rRNA gene for bacteria and archaea, and the 18S rRNA gene for fungi and microbial eukaryotes) for three body sites along with the underlying soil (i.e., gravesoils) at time intervals coinciding with visible changes in carrion morphology. Our results indicate that mice placed on soil with intact microbial communities reach advanced stages of decomposition 2 to 3 times faster than those placed on sterile soil. Microbial communities associated with skin and gravesoils of carrion in stages of active and advanced decay were significantly different between soil types (sterile versus untreated), suggesting that substrates on which carrion decompose may partially determine the microbial decomposer community. However, the source of the decomposer community (soil- versus carcass-associated microbes) was not clear in our data set, suggesting that greater sequencing depth needs to be employed to identify the origin of the decomposer communities in carrion decomposition. Overall, our data show that soil microbial communities have a significant impact on the rate at which carrion decomposes and have important implications for understanding carrion ecology.
PMCID: PMC4135757  PMID: 24907317
23.  Identification of Mn(II)-Oxidizing Bacteria from a Low-pH Contaminated Former Uranium Mine 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2014;80(16):5086-5097.
Biological Mn oxidation is responsible for producing highly reactive and abundant Mn oxide phases in the environment that can mitigate metal contamination. However, little is known about Mn oxidation in low-pH environments, where metal contamination often is a problem as the result of mining activities. We isolated two Mn(II)-oxidizing bacteria (MOB) at pH 5.5 (Duganella isolate AB_14 and Albidiferax isolate TB-2) and nine strains at pH 7 from a former uranium mining site. Isolate TB-2 may contribute to Mn oxidation in the acidic Mn-rich subsoil, as a closely related clone represented 16% of the total community. All isolates oxidized Mn over a small pH range, and isolates from low-pH samples only oxidized Mn below pH 6. Two strains with different pH optima differed in their Fe requirements for Mn oxidation, suggesting that Mn oxidation by the strain found at neutral pH was linked to Fe oxidation. Isolates tolerated Ni, Cu, and Cd and produced Mn oxides with similarities to todorokite and birnessite, with the latter being present in subsurface layers where metal enrichment was associated with Mn oxides. This demonstrates that MOB can be involved in the formation of biogenic Mn oxides in both moderately acidic and neutral pH environments.
PMCID: PMC4135758  PMID: 24928873
24.  Effect of the Surfactant Tween 80 on the Detachment and Dispersal of Salmonella enterica Serovar Thompson Single Cells and Aggregates from Cilantro Leaves as Revealed by Image Analysis 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2014;80(16):5037-5042.
Salmonella enterica has the ability to form biofilms and large aggregates on produce surfaces, including on cilantro leaves. Aggregates of S. enterica serovar Thompson that remained attached to cilantro leaves after rigorous washing and that were present free or bound to dislodged leaf tissue in the wash suspension were observed by confocal microscopy. Measurement of S. Thompson population sizes in the leaf washes by plate counts failed to show an effect of 0.05% Tween 80 on the removal of the pathogen from cilantro leaves 2 and 6 days after inoculation. On the contrary, digital image analysis of micrographs of single cells and aggregates of green fluorescent protein (GFP)-S. Thompson present in cilantro leaf washes revealed that single cells represented 13.7% of the cell assemblages in leaf washes containing Tween 80, versus 9.3% in those without the surfactant. Moreover, Tween 80 decreased the percentage of the total S. Thompson cell population located in aggregates equal to or larger than 64 cells from 9.8% to 4.4% (P < 0.05). Regression analysis of the frequency distribution of aggregate size in leaf washes with and without Tween 80 showed that the surfactant promoted the dispersal of cells from large aggregates into smaller ones and into single cells (P < 0.05). Our study underlines the importance of investigating bacterial behavior at the scale of single cells in order to uncover trends undetectable at the population level by bacterial plate counts. Such an approach may provide valuable information to devise strategies aimed at enhancing the efficacy of produce sanitization treatments.
PMCID: PMC4135759  PMID: 24907336
25.  Lactulose and Lactobacillus plantarum, a Potential Complementary Synbiotic To Control Postweaning Colibacillosis in Piglets 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2014;80(16):4879-4886.
The potential of a prebiotic oligosaccharide lactulose, a probiotic strain of Lactobacillus plantarum, or their synbiotic combination to control postweaning colibacillosis in pigs was evaluated using an enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) K88 oral challenge. Seventy-two weanlings were fed four diets: a control diet (CTR), that diet supplemented with L. plantarum (2 × 1010 CFU · day−1) (LPN), that diet supplemented with 10 g · kg−1 lactulose (LAC), or a combination of the two treatments (SYN). After 7 days, the pigs were orally challenged. Six pigs per treatment were euthanized on days 6 and 10 postchallenge (PC). Inclusion of lactulose improved the average daily gain (ADG) (P < 0.05) and increased lactobacilli (P < 0.05) and the percentage of butyric acid (P < 0.02) in the colon. An increase in the ileum villous height (P < 0.05) and a reduction of the pig major acute-phase protein (Pig-MAP) in serum (P < 0.01) were observed also. The inclusion of the probiotic increased numbers of L. plantarum bacteria in the ileum and colon (P < 0.05) and in the total lactobacilli in the colon and showed a trend to reduce diarrhea (P = 0.09). The concentrations of ammonia in ileal and colonic digesta were decreased (P < 0.05), and the villous height (P < 0.01) and number of ileal goblet cells (P < 0.05) increased, at day 10 PC. A decrease in plasmatic tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) (P < 0.01) was also seen. The positive effects of the two additives were combined in the SYN treatment, resulting in a complementary synbiotic with potential to be used to control postweaning colibacillosis.
PMCID: PMC4135760  PMID: 24907322

Results 1-25 (29701)