Applied and environmental microbiology

Mass and density measurements of live and dead Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacterial populations.

PMID 24705320


Monitoring cell growth and measuring physical features of food-borne pathogenic bacteria are important for better understanding the conditions under which these organisms survive and proliferate. To address this challenge, buoyant masses of live and dead Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Listeria innocua were measured using Archimedes, a commercially available suspended microchannel resonator (SMR). Cell growth was monitored with Archimedes by observing increased cell concentration and buoyant mass values of live growing bacteria. These growth data were compared to optical density measurements obtained with a Bioscreen system. We observed buoyant mass measurements with Archimedes at cell concentrations between 10(5) and 10(8) cells/ml, while growth was not observed with optical density measurements until the concentration was 10(7) cells/ml. Buoyant mass measurements of live and dead cells with and without exposure to hydrogen peroxide stress were also compared; live cells generally had a larger buoyant mass than dead cells. Additionally, buoyant mass measurements were used to determine cell density and total mass for both live and dead cells. Dead E. coli cells were found to have a larger density and smaller total mass than live E. coli cells. In contrast, density was the same for both live and dead L. innocua cells, while the total mass was greater for live than for dead cells. These results contribute to the ongoing challenge to further develop existing technologies used to observe cell populations at low concentrations and to measure unique physical features of cells that may be useful for developing future diagnostics.