QUANTIFICATION OF BIOFILMS IN MULTI-SPECTRAL DIGITAL1 VOLUMES FROM CONFOCAL LASER-SCANNING MICROSCOPES

Karsten Rodenacker, Andreas Brühl, Martina Hausner, Martin Kühn, Volkmar Liebscher, Michael Wagner, Gerhard Winkler, Stefan Wuertz

Abstract

Populations of bacteria in sludge flocs and biofilm marked by fluorescence marked with fluorescent probes are digitised with a confocal laser scanning microscope. These data are used to analyse the microbial community structure, to obtain information on the localisation of specific bacterial groups and to examine gene expression. This information is urgently required for an in-depth understanding of the function and, more generally, the microbial ecology of biofilms. Methods derived from quantitative image analysis are applied to digitised data from confocal laser scanning microscopes to obtain quantitative descriptions of volumetric, topological (and topographical) properties of different compartments of the components under research. In addition to free-moving flocs, also biofilms attached to a substratum in an experimental environment are analysed. Growth form as well as interaction of components are quantitatively described. Classical measurements of volume and intensity (shape, distribution) and distance dependent interaction measurements using methods from mathematical morphology are performed. Mainly image (volume) processing methods are outlined. Segmented volumes are globally and individually (in terms of 3Dconnected components) measured and used for distance mapping transform as well as for estimation of geodesic distances from the substrate. All transformations are applied on the 3D data set. Resulting distance distributions are quantified and related to information on the identity and activity of the probe-identified bacteria.

Keywords
biofilm; activated sludge floc; fluorescent in situ hybridisation; green fluorescent protein; confocal laser-scanning microscopy; mathematical morphology; 3D image analysis

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DOI: 10.5566/ias.v19.p151-156

Image Analysis & Stereology
EISSN 1854-5165 (Electronic version)
ISSN 1580-3139 (Printed version)