Servicio de Información Comunitario sobre Investigación y Desarrollo - CORDIS

An incubation-free method for detecting physiological status in individual bacteria from natural communities

The method uses the technique of X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF)in transmission electron microscopy to detect the elemental composition of individual micro-organisms. Sample preparation involves no incubation step and the method is therefore thought to be free of the complications related to growth, predation and wall effects in most bio-assays.

With a thin-window detector, the biologically light element carbon and nitrogen can be included, and the method thus provides C,N,P content and stoichiometry of individual cells, believed to reflect their nutrient stress. A previously unknown effect of growth conditions on the Mg/Na content of bacteria seems to be related to growth limitation by organic-C. The present working theory is that the production of organic osmolytes is too expensive in C-limited situation, and that an increase in Mg-content somehow is related stabilization of macromolecules and/or production of inorganic compatible solutes under C-limitation.

Since the ecosystem states with carbon versus mineral nutrient limitation of heterotrophic bacteria is believed to influence the ability of bacteria to consume DOC, the method has potential applications in studies such as that of the oceanic C-cycle and in studies of organic pollution degradation (e.g. oil spill clean-up).

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Department of Biology- University of Bergen
Jahnebakken 5
N-5020 Bergen
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