Rapid spectrofluorometric screening of poly-hydroxyalkanoate-producing bacteria from microbial mats


  • Mercedes Berlanga Department of Microbiology and Parasitology, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Barcelona, Spain
  • M. Teresa Montero Physical Chemistry Laboratory V, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Barcelona, Spain
  • Jordi Hernández-Borrell Physical Chemistry Laboratory V, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Barcelona, Spain
  • Ricardo Guerrero Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Biology, University of Barcelona, Spain


Pseudomonas putida, P. oleovorans, poly-hydroxyalkanoates, Ebro Delta microbial mats, Nile red, spectrofluorometry, screening


Microbial mat ecosystems are characterized by both seasonal and diel fluctuations in several physicochemical variables, so that resident microorganisms must frequently adapt to the changing conditions of their environment. It has been pointed out that, under stress conditions, bacterial cells with higher contents of poly-hydroxyalkanoates (PHA) survive longer than those with lower PHA content. In the present study, PHA-producing strains from Ebro Delta microbial mats were selected using the Nile red dying technique and the relative accumulation of PHA was monitored during further laboratory cultivation. The number of heterotrophic isolates in trypticase soy agar (TSA) was ca. 107 colony-forming units/g microbial mat. Of these, 100 randomly chosen colonies were replicated on mineral salt agar limited in nitrogen, and Nile red was added to the medium to detect PHA. Orange fluorescence, produced upon binding of the dye to polymer granules in the cell, was detected in approximately 10% of the replicated heterotrophic isolates. The kinetics of PHA accumulation in Pseudomonas putida, and P. oleovorans were compared with those of several of the environmental isolates spectrofluorometry. PHA accumulation, measured as relative fluorescence intensity, resulted in a steady-state concentration after 48 h of incubation in all strains assayed. At 72 h, the maximum fluorescence intensity of each strain incubated with glucose and fructose was usually similar. MAT-28 strain accumulated more PHA than the other isolates. The results show that data obtained from environmental isolates can highly improve studies based on modeling-simulation programs, and that microbial mats constitute an excellent source for the isolation of PHA-producing strains with industrial applications. [Int Microbiol 2006; 9(2):95-102]






Research Articles