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J Microbiol Methods. 2002 Aug;50(3):237-48.

Application of fluorescently labelled lectins for the visualization and biochemical characterization of polysaccharides in biofilms of Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

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Department of Aquatic Microbiology, Institute of Interfacial Biotechnology, Gerhard-Mercator-University Duisburg, Geibelstrasse 41, 47057, Duisburg, Germany.


Fluorescently labelled lectins were used in combination with epifluorescence microscopy and confocal laser scanning microscopy to allow the visualization and characterization of carbohydrate-containing extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) in biofilms of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. A mucoid strain characterized by an overproduction of the exopolysaccharide alginate, and an isogenic, non-mucoid strain were used. Model biofilms grown on polycarbonate filters were treated with lectins concanavalin A (ConA) and wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) that were fluorescently labelled with fluorescein isothiocyanate or tetramethyl rhodamine isothiocyanate. Fluorescently labelled ConA yielded cloud-like regions that were heterogeneously distributed within mucoid biofilms, whereas these structures were only rarely present in biofilms of the non-mucoid strain. The bacteria visualized with the fluorochrome SYTO 9 were localized both within and between the ConA-stained regions. In WGA-treated biofilms, the lectin was predominantly associated with bacterial cells. Alginate seemed to be involved in the interaction of ConA with the EPS matrix, since (i) pre-treatment of biofilms with an alginate lyase resulted in a loss of ConA biofilm staining, and (ii) using an enzyme-linked lectinsorbent assay (ELLA), ConA was shown to bind to purified alginate, but not to alginate that was degraded by alginate lyase. The application of fluorescently labelled lectins in combination with ELLA was found to be useful for the visualization and characterization of extracellular polysaccharide structures in P. aeruginosa biofilms.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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