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Biotechnol Adv. 1995;13(1):75-90.

The use of immunological methods to detect and identify bacteria in the environment.

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GSF-Forschungszentrum für Umwelt und Gesundheit, Institut für Bodenökologie, Neuherberg, Postfach 1129, D-85758 Oberschleissheim, Germany.


Immunological detection methods have become increasingly important in microbial ecology for the tracking of specific microorganisms and for community analysis. For a reliable application of these techniques, the monoclonal antibodies or polyclonal antisera used have to fulfill several quality criteria. Cross reactivity, cellular localization of the antigenic determinant, affinity characteristics and the expression of the antigenic determinant at environmental conditions have to be determined. Immunological methods can be used for the identification, quantification and enrichment of specific bacteria in extracts as well as for the visualization of cells in situ. The sensitivity of advanced immunological methods can be compared to PCR techniques. Using image processing of epifluorescence micrographs or confocal laser scanning microscopy, the immunofluorescence approach can now be applied to study complex environmental samples.

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