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Quantification of Chlorophyll as a Proxy for Biofilm Formation in the Cyanobacterium Synechococcus elongatus   

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Original research article

A brief version of this protocol appeared in:
Scientific Reports
Aug 2016

Abstract

A self-suppression mechanism of biofilm development in the cyanobacterium Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942 was recently reported. These studies required quantification of biofilms formed by mutants impaired in the biofilm-inhibitory process. Here we describe in detail the use of chlorophyll measurements as a proxy for biomass accumulation in sessile and planktonic cells of biofilm-forming strains. These measurements allow quantification of the total biomass as estimated by chlorophyll level and representation of the extent of biofilm formation by depicting the relative fraction of chlorophyll in planktonic cells.

Keywords: Biofilm, Cyanobacteria, Synechococcus elongatus, Chlorophyll measurement, Sessile, Planktonic

Background

Several recently published studies indicate an emerging interest in the mechanisms that underlie cell-aggregation and biofilm development in cyanobacteria (Fisher et al., 2013; Jittawuttipoka et al., 2013; Schatz et al., 2013; Enomoto et al., 2014; Schwarzkopf et al., 2014; Enomoto et al., 2015; Oliveira et al., 2015; Agostoni et al., 2016; Parnasa et al., 2016). We recently reported a self-biofilm-inhibitory mechanism that dictates planktonic growth of the model unicellular cyanobacterium Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942 (Schatz et al., 2013; Nagar and Schwarz, 2015). Abrogation of the biofilm-inhibitory process by inactivation of particular genes results in robust biofilm development in this otherwise planktonic strain (Schatz et al., 2013; Nagar and Schwarz, 2015). These studies required quantification of the extent of biofilm development in various strains and under different conditions. Crystal violet is commonly used for quantification of biofilms in heterotrophic bacteria (O’Toole and Kolter, 1998). This staining procedure, however, quantifies only the sessile fraction of cells. Here we provide a detailed protocol for culture growth and quantification of cyanobacterial biofilms using chlorophyll measurement as a proxy for biomass accumulation in sessile as well as in planktonic cells. These measurements allow estimation of the total biomass accumulated and representation of the relative fraction of chlorophyll in sessile or in planktonic cells.

Copyright: © 2017 The Authors; exclusive licensee Bio-protocol LLC.
How to cite: Sendersky, E., Simkovsky, R., Golden, S. S. and Schwarz, R. (2017). Quantification of Chlorophyll as a Proxy for Biofilm Formation in the Cyanobacterium Synechococcus elongatus. Bio-protocol 7(14): e2406. DOI: 10.21769/BioProtoc.2406.
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