Flow Cytometry Analysis of Germinating Bacillus Spores, Using Membrane Potential Dye


  1. Laflamme, C.
  2. Ho, J.
  3. Veillette, M.
  4. de Latrémoille, M-C.
  5. Verreault, D.
  6. Mériaux, A.
  7. Duchaine, C.
Corporate Authors
Defence R&D Canada - Suffield, Ralston ALTA (CAN)
Germination of Bacillus anthracis spores in necessary for the transcription of plasmidic genes essential to the infection. Assessing germination potential is crucial to predict the risk associated with pathogenic Bacillus exposure. The aim of this study was to set up a viability assay based on membrane potential in order to predict the earliest germination event of spores. B. cereus and two strains of B. subtilis were used. The spores were isolated with a sodium bromide gradient. Approximately 107 spores were incubated at 37°C in tryptic soy broth (TSB). Aliquots were harvested at predetermined times and stained with 3,3’ –dihexyloxa- carbocyanine iodide [DiOC6(3)] or with bis-(1,3-dibutylbarbituric acid) trimethine oxonol [DiBAC4(3)]. Fluorescence characteristics were obtained using flow cytometry. The earliest detectable activation of membrane potential occurred after 15 min of incubation in TSB using DiOC6(3). Using DiBAC4(3), the earliest detectable signal was after 4 h of incubation. Control experiments using carbonyl cyanide m-chloro-phenylhydrazone (CCCP)-treated spores did not show any change in the fluorescence intensity over time. Since no membrane potential and no germination were detected in CCCP-treated spores, the activation of membrane potential seems to be associated with germination. DiOC6(3) can be used as an early membrane potential.
Membrane potential;Germination
Report Number
DRDC-SUFFIELD-SL-2004-196 — Scientific Literature
Date of publication
15 Jun 2004
Number of Pages
Reprinted from
Arch Microbiol, vol 183, 2005, p 107-112

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