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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1995 Aug;61(8):3069-75.

Quantitative fluorescence in situ hybridization of Bifidobacterium spp. with genus-specific 16S rRNA-targeted probes and its application in fecal samples.

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Department of Medical Microbiology, University of Groningen, The Netherlands.


Three 16S rRNA hybridization probes were developed and tested for genus-specific detection of Bifidobacterium species in the human fecal flora. Variable regions V2, V4, and V8 of the 16S rRNA contained sequences unique to this genus and proved applicable as target sites for oligodeoxynucleotide probes. Determination of the genus specificity of the oligonucleotides was performed by whole-cell hybridization with fluorescein isothiocyanate-labelled probes. To this end, cells were fixed on glass slides, hybridized with the probes, and monitored by videomicroscopy. In combination with image analysis, this allowed quantification of the fluorescence per cell and objective evaluation of hybridization experiments. One of the probes developed was used to determine the population of Bifidobacterium spp. in human fecal samples. A comparison was made with results obtained by cultural methods for enumeration. Since both methods gave similar population estimates, it was concluded that all bifidobacteria in feces were culturable. However, since the total culturable counts were only a fraction of the total microscopic counts, the contribution of bifidobacteria to the total intestinal microflora was overestimated by almost 10-fold when cultural methods were used as the sole method for enumeration.

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