A Novel Staining Protocol for Multiparameter Assessment of Cell Heterogeneity in Phormidium Populations (Cyanobacteria) Employing Fluorescent Dyes

Tashyreva, Daria; Elster, Josef; Billi, Daniela
February 2013
PLoS ONE;Feb2013, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
Bacterial populations display high heterogeneity in viability and physiological activity at the single-cell level, especially under stressful conditions. We demonstrate a novel staining protocol for multiparameter assessment of individual cells in physiologically heterogeneous populations of cyanobacteria. The protocol employs fluorescent probes, i.e., redox dye 5-cyano-2,3-ditolyl tetrazolium chloride, ‘dead cell’ nucleic acid stain SYTOX Green, and DNA-specific fluorochrome 4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole, combined with microscopy image analysis. Our method allows simultaneous estimates of cellular respiration activity, membrane and nucleoid integrity, and allows the detection of photosynthetic pigments fluorescence along with morphological observations. The staining protocol has been adjusted for, both, laboratory and natural populations of the genus Phormidium (Oscillatoriales), and tested on 4 field-collected samples and 12 laboratory strains of cyanobacteria. Based on the mentioned cellular functions we suggest classification of cells in cyanobacterial populations into four categories: (i) active and intact; (ii) injured but active; (iii) metabolically inactive but intact; (iv) inactive and injured, or dead.


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