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J Microbiol Methods. 2004 Jul;58(1):31-8.

Glycine betaine as a cryoprotectant for prokaryotes.

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Bacteriology Program, American Type Culture Collection, 10801 University Boulevard, Manassas, VA 20110, USA.


Osmoprotectants are low molecular weight, hydrophilic, nontoxic molecules that assist a cell under osmotic stress to stabilize its concentration of internal solutes. These properties are similar to compounds used as cryoprotectants for the preservation of prokaryotic cells during freezing. This study tested the ability of a common compatible solute, glycine betaine (GB), to act as a cryoprotectant. In a series of freeze-drying studies using a variety of prokaryotes, GB performed as well, or better than, two commonly used cryoprotectants, sucrose/bovine serum albumin (S/BSA) and trehalose/dextran (T/D). GB did especially well maintaining cell viability after long-term storage (simulated equivalent of 20 years) for microorganisms like Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Streptococcus pneumoniae. GB was tested for its ability to preserve members of the genus Acidothiobacillus, a difficult genus to preserve. For two strains of Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans that were preserved using liquid drying, GB performed as well as S/BSA. Results were more mixed for two strains of Acidithiobacillus thiooxidans; one strain could be preserved with S/BSA but not GB, the other strain gave low recoveries with both cryoprotectants. GB also proved to be a useful cryoprotectant for liquid nitrogen preservation yielding equivalent results to the cryopreservative, glycerol for halophilic archaea, and neutrophilic Fe-oxidizing bacteria. These results indicate that GB is a simple and useful cryoprotectant that works for a wide range of prokaryotic organisms under different cryopreservation regimens.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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