Original Paper

Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 389, Issue 7, pp 2143-2151

First online:

Raman spectroscopic study of bacterial endospores

  • Joke De GelderAffiliated withDepartment of Analytical Chemistry, Ghent University
  • , Patsy ScheldemanAffiliated withTechnology and Food Unit, Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research (ILVO)
  • , Karen LeusAffiliated withDepartment of Analytical Chemistry, Ghent University
  • , Marc HeyndrickxAffiliated withTechnology and Food Unit, Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research (ILVO)
  • , Peter VandenabeeleAffiliated withDepartment of Analytical Chemistry, Ghent University Email author 
  • , Luc MoensAffiliated withDepartment of Analytical Chemistry, Ghent University
  • , Paul De VosAffiliated withLaboratory of Microbiology (Lm-UGent), Ghent University

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Endospores and endospore-forming bacteria were studied by Raman spectroscopy. Raman spectra were recorded from Bacillus licheniformis LMG 7634 at different steps during growth and spore formation, and from spore suspensions obtained from diverse Bacillus and Paenibacillus strains cultured in different conditions (growth media, temperature, peroxide treatment). Raman bands of calcium dipicolinate and amino acids such as phenylalanine and tyrosine are more intense in the spectra of sporulating bacteria compared with those of bacteria from earlier phases of growth. Raman spectroscopy can thus be used to detect sporulation of cells by a characteristic band at 1,018 cm–1 from calcium dipicolinate. The increase in amino acids could possibly be explained by the formation of small acid-soluble proteins that saturate the endospore DNA. Large variations in Raman spectra of endospore suspensions of different strains or different culturing conditions were observed. Next to calcium dipicolinate, tyrosine and phenylalanine, band differences at 527 and 638 cm–1 were observed in the spectra of some of the B. sporothermodurans spore suspensions. These bands were assigned to the incorporation of cysteine residues in spore coat proteins. In conclusion, Raman spectroscopy is a fast technique to provide useful information about several spore components.


A difference spectrum between Raman spectra of B. licheniformis LMG 7634 cultured for 6 days and 1 day, together with the reference Raman spectrum of calcium dipicolinate


Raman spectroscopy Bacteria Endospore Dipicolinic acid Bacillus