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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 41:181-193 (2000)  -  doi:10.3354/dao041181

Method for flow cytometric monitoring of Renibacterium salmoninarum inactivation

R. J. Pascho1,*, J. E. Ongerth2

1U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division, Western Fisheries Research Center, 6505 N.E. 65th Street, Seattle, Washington 98115, USA
2School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales 2052, Australia

ABSTRACT: The slow growth of Renibacterium salmoninarum limits the usefulness of culture as a research tool. Development of a 2-color flow cytometric assay to quantify the proportions of live and dead R. salmoninarum in a test population is described. Bacteria were simultaneously stained with fluorescein isothiocyanate-conjugated immunoglobulin and exposed to the exclusion dye propidium iodide. Propidium iodide red fluorescence profiles of control groups of untreated and killed R. salmoninarum were compared with those for bacteria exposed to chlorine. Bacterial inactivation was based on mean red fluorescence intensity, and analyzed by high-red fluorescence intensity (HRFI) and curve subtraction (CS) analyses. When the concentration of R. salmoninarum was 8.65 x 106 bacteria ml-1 and the bacteria exposed to chlorine at 1 mg l-1 for periods from 1 to 20 min (high-Rs assessment), the mean red fluorescence intensity of the profile for each chlorine-exposure group was higher than that for the untreated control (p < 0.0001). When the concentration of R. salmoninarum was reduced to 1.76 x 106 bacteria ml-1 and exposed to 0.8 mg l-1 free chlorine level for periods from 20 s to 5 min (reduced-Rs assessment), the mean red fluorescence intensities of the exposure groups were higher than that for the untreated control only when the R. salmoninarum was exposed to chlorine for at least 1 min (p ≤ 0.01). On the basis of red fluorescence intensity, the proportion of dead cells generally increased with the duration of chlorine exposure. Whereas the rates of inactivation derived from the HRFI and CS analyses did not correlate with the duration of exposure in the high-Rs assessment (r2 ≤ 0.27), there was a correlation between these estimates and the duration of exposure in the reduced-Rs assessment (r2 ≥ 0.92). Because of the rapid loss of culturable R. salmoninarum in both assessments following chlorine exposure, neither the duration of exposure nor the inactivation estimates correlated with bacteriological culture (r2 ≤ 0 In both assessments, there was a correlation between the estimates of inactivation based upon HRFI and CS analyses (r2 > 0.99). These results suggest that flow cytometry can be used as a supplementary or alternative method to bacteriological culture for monitoring the inactivation of R. salmoninarum.

KEY WORDS: Renibacterium salmoninarum · Flow cytometry · Viability assay · Propidium iodide · Chlorine

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