Author(s): Gant VA, Warnes G, Phillips I, Savidge GF
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Abstract Experiments were performed to determine whether a modern flow cytometer could be used to study bacterial populations in suspension, with particular reference to their morphological characteristics and their responses to antibiotics. The FACScan, a commercial benchtop flow cytometer fitted with an air-cooled laser, designed primarily for the study of eukaryotic peripheral blood mononuclear cells, yielded reproducible data relating to bacterial shape and internal architecture. It was sensitive enough to detect changes in bacterial morphology on entry into the growth cycle and after exposure to antibiotics. Antibiotic-induced morphological changes affecting subpopulations of bacteria were sufficiently specific to allow differentiation between antibiotics with different cell-wall enzyme targets. Simultaneously, the effect of such antibiotics on the integrity of the outer cell membrane of Escherichia coli was assessed by measurement of the association of the nucleic acid-binding dye propidium iodide with the bacteria. These experiments demonstrated complex patterns of probable cell-wall leakage, related to the modes of action of the antibiotics. The FACScan is a useful and sensitive tool for the study of the morphology and physiology of bacterial populations in suspension, and is especially applicable to the study of antibiotic action.
This article was published in J Med Microbiol
and referenced in Journal of Molecular Biomarkers & Diagnosis