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J Ind Microbiol. 1996 Jan;16(1):48-56.

A dual fluorescence technique for visualization of Staphylococcus epidermidis biofilm using scanning confocal laser microscopy.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, Texas 78284, USA.


A new dual fluorescence technique is described which, when combined with scanning confocal laser microscopy (SCLM), can be used to visualize the components of biofilm produced by Staphylococcus epidermidis. Chemostat cultures of RP62A (a well-characterized slime-producing strain of S. epidermidis) were used to produce mature biofilm on polyvinylchloride (PVC) disks immobilized in a modified Robbins device using a 'seed' and 'feed' model system. Serial horizontal and vertical optical thin sections, as well as three-dimensional computer reconstructions, were obtained on in situ biofilm using the dual fluorescence procedure. Bacteria were visualized by green autofluorescence excited at 488 nm with an Argon laser. Cell-associated and exocellular matrix material (slime) was visualized by red fluorescence excited at 568 nm with a Krypton laser after interaction of the biofilm with Texas Red-labeled wheat germ agglutinin which is a slime-specific lectin marker. Structural analysis revealed that the cocci grew in slime-embedded cell clusters forming distinct conical-shaped microcolonies. Interspersed open channels served to connect the bulk liquid with the deepest layers of the mature, hydrated biofilm which increased overall surface area and likely facilitated the exchange of nutrients and waste products throughout the biofilm. The combined dual fluorescence technique and SCLM is potentially useful as a specific noninvasive tool for studying the effect of antimicrobial agents on the process of biofilm formation and for the characterization of the architecture of S. epidermidis biofilm formed in in vivo and in vitro on medical grade virgin or modified inert polymer surfaces.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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