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Environ Microbiol. 2007 Aug;9(8):1878-89.

Raman-FISH: combining stable-isotope Raman spectroscopy and fluorescence in situ hybridization for the single cell analysis of identity and function.

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Biodiversity and Ecosystem Function Group, Molecular Microbial Ecology Section, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology Oxford, Mansfield Road, Oxford, OX1 3SR, UK.


We have coupled fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) with Raman microscopy for simultaneous cultivation-independent identification and determination of (13)C incorporation into microbial cells. Highly resolved Raman confocal spectra were generated for individual cells which were grown in minimal medium where the ratio of (13)C to (12)C content of the sole carbon source was incrementally varied. Cells which were (13)C-labelled through anabolic incorporation of the isotope exhibited key red-shifted spectral peaks, the calculated 'red shift ratio' (RSR) being highly correlated with the (13)C-content of the cells. Subsequently, Raman instrumentation and FISH protocols were optimized to allow combined epifluorescence and Raman imaging of Fluos, Cy3 and Cy5-labelled microbial populations at the single cell level. Cellular (13)C-content determinations exhibited good congruence between fresh cells and FISH hybridized cells indicating that spectral peaks, including phenylalanine resonance, which were used to determine (13)C-labelling, were preserved during fixation and hybridization. In order to demonstrate the suitability of this technology for structure-function analyses in complex microbial communities, Raman-FISH was deployed to show the importance of Pseudomonas populations during naphthalene degradation in groundwater microcosms. Raman-FISH extends and complements current technologies such as FISH-microautoradiography and stable isotope probing in that it can be applied at the resolution of single cells in complex communities, is quantitative if suitable calibrations are performed, can be used with stable isotopes and has analysis times of typically 1 min per cell.

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