• Assessing the viability of bacterial species in drinking water by combined cellular and molecular analyses.

      Kahlisch, Leila; Henne, Karsten; Gröbe, Lothar; Brettar, Ingrid; Höfle, Manfred G; Department of Vaccinology and Applied Microbiology, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Inhoffenstrasse 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2012-02)
      The question which bacterial species are present in water and if they are viable is essential for drinking water safety but also of general relevance in aquatic ecology. To approach this question we combined propidium iodide/SYTO9 staining ("live/dead staining" indicating membrane integrity), fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) and community fingerprinting for the analysis of a set of tap water samples. Live/dead staining revealed that about half of the bacteria in the tap water had intact membranes. Molecular analysis using 16S rRNA and 16S rRNA gene-based single-strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) fingerprints and sequencing of drinking water bacteria before and after FACS sorting revealed: (1) the DNA- and RNA-based overall community structure differed substantially, (2) the community retrieved from RNA and DNA reflected different bacterial species, classified as 53 phylotypes (with only two common phylotypes), (3) the percentage of phylotypes with intact membranes or damaged cells were comparable for RNA- and DNA-based analyses, and (4) the retrieved species were primarily of aquatic origin. The pronounced difference between phylotypes obtained from DNA extracts (dominated by Betaproteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, and Actinobacteria) and from RNA extracts (dominated by Alpha-, Beta-, Gammaproteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, and Cyanobacteria) demonstrate the relevance of concomitant RNA and DNA analyses for drinking water studies. Unexpected was that a comparable fraction (about 21%) of phylotypes with membrane-injured cells was observed for DNA- and RNA-based analyses, contradicting the current understanding that RNA-based analyses represent the actively growing fraction of the bacterial community. Overall, we think that this combined approach provides an interesting tool for a concomitant phylogenetic and viability analysis of bacterial species of drinking water.
    • Quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction analysis of Vibrio cholerae cells entering the viable but non-culturable state and starvation in response to cold shock.

      González-Escalona, Narjol; Fey, Axel; Höfle, Manfred G; Espejo, Romilio T; A Guzmán, Carlos; Vaccine Research Group, Division of Microbiology, GBF-German Research Centre for Biotechnology, Braunschweig, Germany. (2006-04)
      We performed a comparative analysis of the Vibrio cholerae strain El Tor 3083 entering the viable but non-culturable (VBNC) state and starvation after incubation in artificial seawater (ASW) at 4 and 15 degrees C respectively. To this end, we determined bacterial culturability and membrane integrity, as well as the cellular levels of 16S rRNA and mRNA for the tuf, rpoS and relA genes, which were assessed by real-time quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (Q-RT-PCR). Bacterial cells entering the VBNC state showed a 154, 5.1 x 10(3), 24- and 23-fold reduction in the number of copies of 16S rRNA and mRNA for tuf, rpoS and relA, in comparison to exponentially growing cells. The differences were less striking between cells in the VBNC and starvation states. The mRNA for relA was selectively increased in VBNC cells (3.2-folds), whereas a 3.9-fold reduction was observed for 16S rRNA. The obtained results confirmed that key activities of the cellular metabolism (i.e. tuf representing protein synthesis, and relA or rpoS stress response) were still detected in bacteria entering the VBNC state and starvation. These data suggest that the new Q-RT-PCR methodology, based on the selected RNA targets, could be successfully exploited for the identification (rRNA) of V. cholerae and assessment of its metabolic activity (tuf, rpoS, relA mRNA) in environmental samples.