Optical methods to measure antibiotic production by Streptomycetes

  • Rooney, Liam (Principal Investigator)
  • Schniete, Jana Katharina (Principal Investigator)

Project: Research - Studentship

Project Details


The genus of bacteria, Streptomyces, produces around 70% of clinically relevant antibiotics in use today. They evolved the ability to secrete these chemical weapons into their local environment to ward off competing microbes and to signal over extended distances. However, understanding and quantifying the secretion of antibiotics directly from the cells into their environment is challenging.
We developed a method based on combining routine confocal fluorescence imaging with standing wave fluorescence microscopy and interference reflection microscopy to measure the volume of extracellular matrix secreted by live streptomycetes in situ. Our method was able to accurately measure the 3D volume of matrix around individual hyphae thanks to a five-fold axial resolution improvement compared to confocal microscopy alone and has translational applications for the study of extracellular matrix and antibiotic production with minimal perturbation to the bacterial cells.
Effective start/end date7/05/1810/08/18


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