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J Microbiol Methods. 2004 Mar;56(3):331-8.

Rapid estimation of lipids in oleaginous fungi and yeasts using Nile red fluorescence.

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Institute for Biological Resources and Functions, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, 1-1 Higashi 1-Chome, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, 305-8655 Japan.


A rapid estimation method of the intracellular lipid content in microorganisms using a fluorescent probe, Nile red, was established by optimization of the Nile red staining and data processing. The protocol was designed to be applicable to a wide range of microorganisms and culture conditions. In the optimized procedure, cells diluted with buffer were stained with 0.24-0.47 microg/ml of Nile red for 5 min, and the fluorescent emission spectra in the wavelength region of 400 to 700 nm excited at 488 nm were acquired before and after the Nile red addition. The fluorescence intensity corresponding to the intracellular lipid amount was determined at the peak of the corrected spectrum. The value showed a linear relation with the lipid content of various oleaginous fungi and yeasts measured by the conventional method. The relative intensities against the unit lipid amounts were almost similar except for one yeast. For the application to mycelia forming various types of pellets, a simple and easy pretreatment of shaking with glass beads for 5-10 min was added to the protocol. The established method was applicable to estimate the lipid content of a wide range of microorganism cultures containing 2-5000 microg-lipid/ml-broth.

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