The present invention pertains to a molecular biology-based method and kit for measuring the specific growth rate (or cell doubling time) of distinct microbial populations. The method and kit can be used to analyze mixed culture samples that have been exposed to chloramphenicol or other protein synthesis inhibitors for defined times. In a preferred embodiment, the method of the invention (also referred to herein as FISH-RiboSyn) is an in situ method that utilizes fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) with probes that target: (1) the 5′ or 3′ end of precursor 16S rRNA; or (2) the interior region of both precursor 16S rRNA and mature 16S rRNA. Images can be captured for a defined exposure time and the average fluorescent intensity for individual cells can be determined. The rate of increase of the whole cell fluorescent intensity is used to determine the specific growth rate. The method of the invention can be attractive for rapidly measuring the specific growth rate (or cell doubling time) of distinct microbial populations within a mixed culture in industries such as environmental systems (water and wastewater treatment systems), bioremediation (optimization of conditions for microbial growth), public health (identification of rapidly growing infectious microbes), and homeland security (identification of rapidly growing bioterrorism agents).
Stroot, Peter George; Cutter, Matthew Raymond; and DuPont, Jr., Samuel James, "Method for determining the specific growth rate of distinct microbial populations in a non-homogeneous system" (2010). USF Patents. 511.
University of South Florida