Biological Sciences


Protocols in Current Issue
Protocols in Past Issues
0 Q&A 506 Views Jan 5, 2024

Fusarium oxysporum can cause many important plant diseases worldwide, such as crown rot, wilt, and root rot. During the development of strawberry crown rot, this pathogenic fungus spreads from the mother plant to the strawberry seedling through the stolon, with obvious characteristics of latent infection. Therefore, the rapid and timely detection of F. oxysporum can significantly help achieve effective disease management. Here, we present a protocol for the recombinase polymerase amplification– lateral flow dipstick (RPA–LFD) detection technique for the rapid detection of F. oxysporum on strawberry, which only takes half an hour. A significant advantage of our RPA–LFD technique is the elimination of the involvement of professional teams and laboratories, which qualifies it for field detection. We test this protocol directly on plant samples with suspected infection by F. oxysporum in the field and greenhouse. It is worth noting that this protocol can quickly, sensitively, and specifically detect F. oxysporum in soils and plants including strawberry.

Key features

• This protocol is used to detect whether plants such as strawberry are infected with F. oxysporum.

• This protocol has potential for application in portable nucleic acid detection.

• It can complete the detection of samples in the field within 30 min.

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 295 Views Oct 5, 2023

Mixed communities of fungi and bacteria have been shown to be more efficient in degrading wood than fungi alone. Some standardised protocols for quantification of the wood decay ability of fungi have been developed (e.g., DIN V ENV 12038:2002 as the legal standard to test for the resistance of wood against wood-destroying basidiomycetes in Germany). Here, we describe a step-by-step protocol developed from the official standard DIN V ENV12038 to test combinations of bacteria and fungi for their combined wood degradation ability. Equally sized wood blocks are inoculated with wood decay fungi and bacterial strains. Axenic controls allow the analysis of varying degradation rates via comparison of the wood dry weights at the end of the experiments. This protocol provides new opportunities in exploration of inter- and intra-kingdom interactions in the wood-related environment and forms the basis for microcosm experiments.

Key features

• Quantification of wood decay ability of mixed cultures.

• Allows testing if fungi are more efficient in degrading wood when bacteria are present.

0 Q&A 438 Views Aug 5, 2023

The development of antimicrobial resistance and the formation of Salmonella biofilms are serious public health problems. For this reason, new natural compounds with antimicrobial and anti-biofilm activity are being sought, and wild fungi represent an untapped potential. Various extraction agents, including organic solvents and aqueous buffers, can be used to obtain bioactive compounds from natural sources. To evaluate their bioactivity, extensive screening studies are required to determine antimicrobial and anti-biofilm activity using methods such as broth microdilution or crystal violet assay, respectively, but none of these methods allow simultaneous evaluation of both activities against bacteria. Cold water extraction from wild fungi offers the advantage of extracting water-soluble compounds. The SIMultaneous detection of antiMicrobial and anti-Biofilm Activity (SIMBA) method combines the testing of both types of activity against bacteria with the evaluation of the 20 h growth curve of the Salmonella Infantis ŽM9 strain determined with absorbance measurements at 600 nm in a 96-well plate. SIMBA method thus shortens the time to determine the bioactivity of extracts, reduces material consumption, and eliminates the need for additional reagents. SIMBA enables rapid selection of bioactive extracts for their fractionation and shortens the time to determine new natural products with antimicrobial and anti-biofilm activity.

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 493 Views Jul 20, 2023

Barley (Hordeum vulgare) is one of the most important agricultural crops in the world, but pathogen infections regularly limit its annual yield. A major threat is the infection with the biotrophic leaf rust fungus, Puccinia hordei. Rust fungi have a complex life cycle, and existing resistances can be easily overcome. To address this problem, it is crucial to develop barley varieties with improved and durable resistance mechanisms. An essential step towards this goal is a simple and reproducible infection protocol to evaluate potential resistance phenotypes in the lab. However, available protocols sometimes lack detailed procedure or equipment information, use spore application methods that are not suitable for uniform spore dispersion, or require special mineral oils or engineered fluids. In addition, they are often optimized for pathogen-dedicated greenhouses or phytochambers, which may not be available to every research institute. Here, we describe an easy and user-friendly procedure to infect barley with Puccinia hordei on a small laboratory scale. This procedure utilizes inexpensive and simple tools to evenly split and apply spores to barley leaves. The treated plants are incubated in affordable and small phytocabinets. Our protocol enables a quick and reproducible infection of barley with leaf rust, a method that can easily be transferred to other rust fungi, including stripe rust, or to other plant species.

Key features

• Step-by-step infection protocol established for barley cv. Golden Promise, the gold standard genotype for genetic transformation

• Plant age–independent protocol

• Precise spore application by using inexpensive pipe cleaners for uniform symptom formation and increased reproducibility

• No specialized equipment needed

• Includes simple spore harvesting method

• Protocol is applicable to other biotrophic pathogens (stripe rust or powdery mildew) and other plants (e.g., wheat)

• Protocol is also applicable for a detached leaf assay

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 409 Views Jun 20, 2023

Export of type 3 secretion (T3S) substrates is traditionally evaluated using trichloroacetic acid (TCA) precipitation of cultured cell supernatants followed by western blot analysis of the secreted substrates. In our lab, we have developed β-lactamase (Bla), lacking its Sec secretion signal, as a reporter for the export of flagellar proteins into the periplasm via the flagellar T3S system. Bla is normally exported into the periplasm through the SecYEG translocon. Bla must be secreted into the periplasm in order to fold into an active conformation, where it acts to cleave β-lactams (such as ampicillin) to confer ampicillin resistance (ApR) to the cell. The use of Bla as a reporter for flagellar T3S allows the relative comparison of translocation efficiency of a particular fusion protein in different genetic backgrounds. In addition, it can also be used as a positive selection for secretion.

Graphical overview

Utilization of β-lactamase (Bla) lacking its Sec secretion signal and fused to flagellar proteins to assay the secretion of exported flagellar substrates, into the periplasm, through the flagellar T3S system. A. Bla is normally transported into the periplasm space through the Sec secretion pathway, where it folds into an active conformation and allows resistance to ampicillin (ApR). B. Bla, lacking its Sec secretion signal, is fused to flagellar proteins to assay the secretion of exported flagellar proteins into the periplasm through the flagellar T3S system.

0 Q&A 412 Views Mar 20, 2023

Over the past decades, the main techniques used to visualize bacteria in tissue have improved but are still mainly based on indirect recognition of bacteria. Both microscopy and molecular recognition are being improved, but most procedures for bacteria detection in tissue involve extensive damage. Here, we describe a method to visualize bacteria in tissue slices from an in vivo model of breast cancer. This method allows examining trafficking and colonization of fluorescein-5-isothiocyanate (FITC)-stained bacteria in various tissues. The protocol provides direct visualization of fusobacterial colonization in breast cancer tissue. Rather than processing the tissue or confirming bacterial colonization by PCR or culture, the tissue is directly imaged using multiphoton microscopy. This direct visualization protocol causes no damage to the tissue; therefore, all structures can be identified. This method can be combined with others to co-visualize bacteria, types of cells, or protein expression in cells.

0 Q&A 577 Views Nov 20, 2022

The study of haloarchaea provides an opportunity to expand understanding of the mechanisms used by extremophiles to thrive in and respond to harsh environments, including hypersaline and oxidative stress conditions. A common strategy used to investigate molecular mechanisms of stress response involves the deletion and/or site-directed mutagenesis of genes identified through omics studies followed by a comparison of the mutant and wild-type strains for phenotypic differences. The experimental methods used to monitor these differences must be controlled and reproducible. Current methods to examine recovery of halophilic archaea from extreme stress are complicated by extended incubation times, nutrients not typically encountered in the environment, and other related limitations. Here we describe a method for assessing the function of genes during hypochlorite stress in the halophilic archaeon Haloferax volcanii that overcomes these types of limitations. The method was found reproducible and informative in identifying genes needed for H. volcanii to recover from hypochlorite stress.

0 Q&A 2082 Views Jul 20, 2022

Bacteriocins are antimicrobial peptides with activity against antibiotic resistant bacterial pathogens. Here, we describe a set of methods aimed at purifying, identifying, and characterizing new bacteriocins. The purification consists of ammonium sulphate precipitation, cation-exchange chromatography, and reversed-phase chromatography. The yield of the bacteriocin is quantified by bacteriocin antimicrobial activity in a microtiter plate assay after each purification step. The mass of the purified bacteriocin is assessed by MALDI TOF MS analysis of the active fractions after reversed-phase chromatography. The mass is compared with the theoretical mass based on genetic information from the whole genome sequencing of the bacteriocin producer strain. Physicochemical characterization is performed by assessing antimicrobial activity following heat and protease treatments. Fluorescent techniques are used to examine the capacity of the bacteriocin to disrupt membrane integrity. Herein a set of protocols for purification and characterization of the bacteriocin nisin Z is used as a typical example in this paper.

0 Q&A 4975 Views May 5, 2022

Bacterial studies based on growth curves are common in microbiology and related fields. Compared to the standard photometer and cuvette based protocols, bacterial growth curve measurements with microplate readers provide better temporal resolution, higher efficiency, and are less laborious, while analysis and interpretation of the microplate-based measurements are less straightforward. Recently, we developed a new analysis method for evaluating bacterial growth with microplate readers based on time derivatives. Here, we describe a detailed protocol for this development and provide the homemade program for the new analysis method.

0 Q&A 1808 Views Feb 5, 2022

Biofilms serve as a bacterial survival strategy, allowing bacteria to persist under adverse environmental conditions. The non-pathogenic Listeria innocua is used as a surrogate organism for the foodborne pathogen Listeria monocytogenes, because they share genetic and physiological similarities and can be used in a Biosafety Level 1 laboratory. Several methods are used to evaluate biofilms, including different approaches to determine biofilm biomass or culturability, viability, metabolic activity, or other microbial community properties. Routinely used methods for biofilm assay include the classical culture-based plate counting method, biomass staining methods (e.g., crystal violet and safranin red), DNA staining methods (e.g., Syto 9), methods that use metabolic substrates to detect live bacteria (e.g., tetrazolium salts or resazurin), and PCR-based methods to quantify bacterial DNA. The NanoLuc (Nluc) luciferase biofilm assay is a viable alternative or complement to existing methods. Functional Nluc was expressed in L. innocua using the nisin-inducible expression system and bacterial detection was performed using furimazine as substrate. Concentration dependent bioluminescence signals were obtained over a concentration range greater than three log units. The Nluc bioluminescence method allows absolute quantification of bacterial cells, has high sensitivity, broad range, good day-to-day repeatability, and good precision with acceptable accuracy. The advantages of Nluc bioluminescence also include direct detection, absolute cell quantification, and rapid execution.

Graphic abstract:

Engineering Listeria innocua to express NanoLuc and its application in bioluminescence assay.

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