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J Microbiol Methods. 2007 Jun;69(3):451-60. Epub 2007 Mar 3.

Routine fluorescence in situ hybridization in soil.

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Institute of Zoology, Darmstadt University of Technology, Schnittspahnstrasse 3, D-64287 Darmstadt, Germany.


The use of fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) to identify and enumerate soil bacteria has long been hampered by the autofluorescence of soil particles masking the bacterial signals and because the need of counting hundreds of bacteria in order to achieve statistically reliable data is time consuming. Recently, it was demonstrated that Nycodenz facilitates FISH in soil by concentrating bacteria on membrane filters and avoiding autofluorescent soil particles. We present a routine protocol for FISH in soil including the use of Nycodenz. The protocol allows fast and easy enumeration of hundreds of bacteria. We propose the use of silicon grease coated slides to treat in parallel seven samples per hybridization. Further, we developed a semi-automated approach for the enumeration of bacteria by implementing macros concatenating all steps of the image analyzes in the Image J software. Using Nycodenz, software-assisted bacterial counts statistically matched eye-counts of the same images and it was possible to count 880 DAPI stained bacteria per ten images. Fifty-five percent of these bacteria were co-labelled with the FISH probe specific for the Domain Bacteria, in accordance with recent FISH studies of bacterial populations in bulk soil. With a soil slurry protocol used for comparison, soil particles impaired automatic counts of the bacteria and FISH analysis, and only 88 DAPI stained bacteria per ten images could be counted by eye. With the Nycodenz protocol, 5 mM Na(2)EDTA used as an extractant increased the number of bacteria observed by 49%. In contrast, Tween 20 (1% or 5%) had no significant effect and increased the variability between the samples. Overall, the proposed procedure allows to process a high number of samples and to achieve a time efficient FISH characterization of soil bacterial communities.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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