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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1997 Apr;63(4):1208-13.

Determination of Active Marine Bacterioplankton: a Comparison of Universal 16S rRNA Probes, Autoradiography, and Nucleoid Staining.

Abstract

We compared several currently discussed methods for the assessment of bacterial numbers and activity in marine waters, using samples from a variety of marine environments, from aged offshore seawater to rich harbor water. Samples were simultaneously tested for binding to a fluorescently labeled universal 16S rRNA probe; (sup3)H-labeled amino acid uptake via autoradiography; nucleoid-containing bacterial numbers by modified DAPI (4(prm1),6-diamidino-2-phenylindole) staining; staining with 5-cyano-2,3-ditolyl tetrazolium chloride (CTC), a compound supposed to indicate oxidative cell metabolism; and total bacterial counts (classical DAPI staining), taken as a reference. For the universal-probe counts, we used an image intensifying and processing system coupled to the epifluorescence microscope. All of the above-mentioned methods yielded lower cell counts than DAPI total counts. Universal-probe counts averaged about half of the corresponding DAPI count and were highly correlated to autoradiography counts (r(sup2) = 0.943; n = 7). Nucleoid-containing cell counts could be lower than DAPI counts by as much as 1 order of magnitude but sometimes matched autoradiography or probe counts. CTC counts were 2 orders of magnitude below DAPI counts. Universal 16S rRNA probe counts correlated well with autoradiography results, indicating a population with at least minimal metabolic activity. The greater variability of the nucleoid-containing cell counts calls for further investigation of the processes involved, and CTC counts were well below the range of the other methods tested.

PMID:
16535563
[PubMed]
PMCID:
PMC1389541
Free PMC Article
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