Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Choosing your neighbors: MBL scientists see how microbes relate in space

15.02.2011
Like people in cities, microbes often live in complex communities that contain many different microbial types. Also like us, microbes tend to gravitate to and "hang out" with certain other types in their community, more than with the rest. And sometimes, when opportunities arise, they move to more favorable locations.

But until recently, scientists have not been able to look at a microbial community and distinguish the spatial relationship of more than 2 or 3 kinds of microbes at once.

Now, a microscopy technique developed at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), allows scientists to see the spatial arrangement of up to 28 differently labeled microbes in a single field of view.

"We get information on the presence of many different microbes at once and get it quickly, cheaply, and perhaps more accurately than other methods," says Gary Borisy, president and director of the MBL and co-author of a paper describing the technique published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Just as you may move to a certain neighborhood because the schools are good for your kids, the neighborhood is important for microbes," Borisy says. "When we find out where (in a community) they like to hang out, that has implications for how they function."

The new technique, called CLASI-FISH (combinatorial labeling and spectral imaging fluorescent in situ hybridization), is faster than traditional ways of identifying the microbes in a sample (by laboratory culture or by DNA sequencing). Plus, it reveals the spatial structure of the community, which these methods do not.

"We don't just find out who is there. We find out where they are in space," Borisy says.

Borisy and his colleagues, including Floyd Dewhirst of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, used the technique to analyze dental plaque, a complex biofilm that is known to contain at least 600 species of microbes. They were able to visually discriminate 15 different microbial types, and to determine which 2 types (Prevotella and Actinomyces) showed the most interspecies associations.

"That might imply some functional interaction between them," Borisy says. "One may be facilitating the other to colonize the site, and the exchange will reap some benefit for them both."

The lead author on the paper is Alex M. Valm, a student in the Brown-MBL Graduate Program in Biological and Environmental Sciences. Another team member, MBL scientist Jessica Mark Welch, is leading the effort to apply CLASI-FISH to the organization of microbial communities in another setting—the guts of mice harboring defined populations of human microbes.

"It's very possible that this technology will enable a new kind of clinical diagnostic procedure, so that it will be possible to very quickly and accurately diagnose a specimen for many kinds of microbes at once," Borisy says. "As an alternative to culturing, it could be faster, cheaper, and better."

Resources:

Citation:

Valm, A.M., Mark Welch, J.L., Rieken, C.W., Hasegawa, Y., Sogin, M.L., Oldenbourg, R., Dewhirst, F.E., and Borisy, G.G. (2011) Systems-level analysis of microbial community organization through combinatorial labeling and spectral imaging. PNAS Early Edition (Feb. 14), doi/10.1073/pnas.1101134108.

The Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) is dedicated to scientific discovery and improving the human condition through research and education in biology, biomedicine, and environmental science. Founded in 1888 in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, the MBL is an independent, nonprofit corporation.

Diana Kenney | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mbl.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht BigH1 -- The key histone for male fertility
14.12.2017 | Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)

nachricht Guardians of the Gate
14.12.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Plasmonic biosensors enable development of new easy-to-use health tests

14.12.2017 | Health and Medicine

New type of smart windows use liquid to switch from clear to reflective

14.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

BigH1 -- The key histone for male fertility

14.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>