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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2006 Oct;72(10):6808-14.

Applications of a rapid endospore viability assay for monitoring UV inactivation and characterizing arctic ice cores.

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  • 1Jet Propulsion Laboratory, MS 302-205, 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena, CA 91109, USA.


We have developed a rapid endospore viability assay (EVA) in which endospore germination serves as an indicator for viability and applied it to (i) monitor UV inactivation of endospores as a function of dose and (ii) determine the proportion of viable endospores in arctic ice cores (Greenland Ice Sheet Project 2 [GISP2] cores; 94 m). EVA is based on the detection of dipicolinic acid (DPA), which is released from endospores during germination. DPA concentrations were determined using the terbium ion (Tb3+)-DPA luminescence assay, and germination was induced by L-alanine addition. The concentrations of germinable endospores were determined by comparison to a standard curve. Parallel EVA and phase-contrast microscopy experiments to determine the percentage of germinable spores yielded comparable results (54.3% +/- 3.8% and 48.9% +/- 4.5%, respectively), while only 27.8% +/- 7.6% of spores produced CFU. EVA was applied to monitor the inactivation of spore suspensions as a function of UV dose, yielding reproducible correlations between EVA and CFU inactivation data. The 90% inactivation doses were 2,773 J/m2, 3,947 J/m2, and 1,322 J/m2 for EVA, phase-contrast microscopy, and CFU reduction, respectively. Finally, EVA was applied to quantify germinable and total endospore concentrations in two GISP2 ice cores. The first ice core contained 295 +/- 19 germinable spores/ml and 369 +/- 36 total spores/ml (i.e., the percentage of germinable endospores was 79.9% +/- 9.3%), and the second core contained 131 +/- 4 germinable spores/ml and 162 +/- 17 total spores/ml (i.e., the percentage of germinable endospores was 80.9% +/- 8.8%), whereas only 2 CFU/ml were detected by culturing.

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