, Volume 51, Issue 6, pp 765-772

Quantification of bacterial polyhydroxyalkanoic acids by Nile red staining

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The fluorescence properties of one chemically and seven biologically produced polyhydroxyalkanoic acids were investigated as film castings and in living cells respectively after staining with Nile red. All these polyesters show a similar fluorescence behaviour, revealing a clear fluorescence maximum at an excitation wavelength between 540 nm and 560 nm and an emission wavelength between 570 nm and 605 nm. This could be shown by the use of two-dimensional fluorescence spectroscopy and flow cytometry. The examination of native poly(3-hydroxybutyric acid), poly(3HB), granules isolated from cells of Ralstonia eutropha H16 showed that the addition of 6.0 μg Nile red is necessary for total staining of 1.0 mg granules. The fluorescence intensity at an excitation wavelength of 550 nm and an emission wavelength of 600 nm showed high correlation to the poly(3HB) concentration of grana suspensions at different grana concentrations. These results and the staining of cell suspensions during cultivation experiments revealed that Nile red has a high potential for the quantitative determination of hydrophobic bacterial polyhydroxyalkanoic acids.

Received: 13 November 1998 / Received revision: 4 February 1999 / Accepted: 12 February 1999