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Estimating the Abundance of Endospores of Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria in Environmental Samples by Inducing Germination and Exponential Growth

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Julia Rosa de Rezende, Dr Casey Hubert



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


It is a challenge to quantitatively distinguish active from dormant microbial populations in environmental samples. Here we present an approach for estimating the abundance of dormant sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB), present as viable endospores in environmental samples. This is achieved by inducing endospores to germinate and grow exponentially. We demonstrate this approach for thermophilic SRB in temperate sediment from Aarhus Bay, Denmark. The approach is based on measuring bulk sulfate reduction rates in pasteurized sediment and calculating associated cell-specific sulfate reduction rates based on average values for SRB growth yield and cell size known from exponentially growing pure cultures. The method presented is a faster bioassay than most probable number enumerations and has the potential to distinguish between slow- and fast-growing SRB populations in the same sample. This bioassay is attractive given the challenges posed by endospores with respect to cell permeabilization and lysis, which are prerequisite in quantitative microscopy- and nucleic acid extraction-based strategies. These molecular approaches additionally rely on designing target-appropriate oligonucleotide probes, whereas the method presented here considers the trait of interest more broadly. This strategy thus presents a useful complement to other methods in ecological investigations of microbial biogeography and for specific industrial applications such as reservoir souring and corrosion risk assessments in the oil and gas sector.

Publication metadata

Author(s): de Rezende JR, Hubert CRJ, Røy H, Kjeldsen KU, Jørgensen BB

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Geomicrobiology Journal

Year: 2017

Volume: 34

Issue: 4

Pages: 338-345

Online publication date: 05/07/2016

Acceptance date: 13/05/2016

Date deposited: 16/02/2017

ISSN (print): 0149-0451

ISSN (electronic): 1521-0529

Publisher: Taylor & Francis Inc.


DOI: 10.1080/01490451.2016.1190805


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