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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2011 Dec;77(23):8310-7. doi: 10.1128/AEM.06644-11. Epub 2011 Oct 7.

Imaging and analysis of Pseudomonas aeruginosa swarming and rhamnolipid production.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana 46556, USA.


Many bacteria spread over surfaces by "swarming" in groups. A problem for scientists who study swarming is the acquisition of statistically significant data that distinguish two observations or detail the temporal patterns and two-dimensional heterogeneities that occur. It is currently difficult to quantify differences between observed swarm phenotypes. Here, we present a method for acquisition of temporal surface motility data using time-lapse fluorescence and bioluminescence imaging. We specifically demonstrate three applications of our technique with the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa. First, we quantify the temporal distribution of P. aeruginosa cells tagged with green fluorescent protein (GFP) and the surfactant rhamnolipid stained with the lipid dye Nile red. Second, we distinguish swarming of P. aeruginosa and Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium in a coswarming experiment. Lastly, we quantify differences in swarming and rhamnolipid production of several P. aeruginosa strains. While the best swarming strains produced the most rhamnolipid on surfaces, planktonic culture rhamnolipid production did not correlate with surface growth rhamnolipid production.

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