Journal of general microbiology

Quantitative separation of bacteria in saline solution using lanthanide Er(III) and a magnetic field.

PMID 1556557


A trivalent lanthanide ion, erbium (Er3+), has been used in combination with a magnetic separation technique to isolate seven bacterial species from suspensions in 0.9% saline. Erbium has an exceptionally high atomic magnetic moment of 9.3 Bohr magnetons, and following addition as ErCl3 (final concentration 5 mM) to bacterial suspensions, it imparts the magnetic moment to the bacterial cells by ionic binding to the cell surface. Strains of Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Proteus mirabilis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Staphylococcus saprophyticus and Enterococcus faecalis were obtained from the Quality Control Depository of The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio, USA as suspensions in 0.9% NaCl, in concentrations ranging from 10(2) to 10(8) c.f.u. ml-1. Bacteria were separated from solution inside a capillary flow cell exposed to a highly non-homogeneous magnetic field (maximum field intensity was 0.4 T) and quantified by a light scattering method. The quantity of cellular deposition in the magnetic field was correlated with the initial concentration of cells in the suspension, expressed in c.f.u. ml-1, and sample volume (1.5 and 3.0 ml), sample pH (prior to ErCl3 addition), affinity to Gram stain (negative vs positive) and species.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)