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J Microbiol Methods. 2004 Jun;57(3):379-90.

The filtration-acclimatization method for isolation of an important fraction of the not readily cultivable bacteria.

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Institute for Limnology, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Mondseestrasse 9, Mondsee A-5310, Austria.


We developed a novel method, the filtration-acclimatization method (FAM), which enables the isolation and cultivation of an important fraction of the bacterial diversity, which is not cultivable by standard methods. The method consists of a filtration step, which removes most of the readily cultivable bacteria able to overgrow slowly growing bacteria, and an acclimatization procedure that provides a slow transition from the low environmental substrate concentrations to the high concentration of standard microbial media. So far, we isolated in total 65 strains from surface freshwater habitats by utilizing FAM. The isolates are affiliated with Actinobacteria, Alpha-, Betaproteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, and Spirochaeta. All isolates are pure cultures and form visible colonies on agar plates with high substrate concentrations. For further analysis, strains sharing more than a 97% 16S rRNA gene sequence similarity were grouped into one taxon. Based on sequence similarities, 88% of the obtained taxa can be considered to be undescribed species (<97% similarity to closest species). The highest similarity value of the taxa to the respective closest related species ranged from 87.7% to 99.8%, and was on average 94.5%. For comparison we isolated, by direct plating of water samples on a rich agar medium, a similar number of taxa. Amongst these taxa the percentage of taxa, which can be considered to be undescribed species, was only half of the percentage found for the taxa isolated by FAM. More importantly, it was amongst the taxa obtained by the standard method no taxon that was closer related to an uncultured bacterium than to an isolate, while 56% of the taxa isolated by FAM were closely related to uncultured bacteria.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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