Enhanced Methodologies for Detecting Phenotypic Resistance in Mycobacteria

  • Robert J. H. Hammond
  • Vincent O. Baron
  • Sam Lipworth
  • Stephen H. Gillespie
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 1736)


Lipid droplets found in algae and other microscopic organisms have become of interest to many researchers partially because they carry the capacity to produce bio-oil for the mass market. They are of importance in biology and clinical practice because their presence can be a phenotypic marker of an altered metabolism, including reversible resistance to antibiotics, prompting intense research.

A useful stain for detecting lipid bodies in the lab is Nile red. It is a dye that exhibits solvatochromism; its absorption band varies in spectral position, shape and intensity with the nature of its solvent environment, it will fluoresce intensely red in polar environment and blue shift with the changing polarity of its solvent. This makes it ideal for the detection of lipid bodies within Mycobacterium spp. This is because mycobacterial lipid bodies’ primary constituents are nonpolar lipids such as triacylglycerols but bacterial cell membranes are primarily polar lipid species. In this chapter we describe an optimal method for using Nile red to distinguish lipid containing (Lipid rich or LR cells) from those without lipid bodies (Lipid Poor or LP). As part of the process we have optimized a method for separating LP and LR cells that does not require the use of an ultracentrifuge or complex separation media. We believe that these methods will facilitate further research in these enigmatic, transient and important cell states.

Key words

Tuberculosis Dormancy Phenotypic resistance Lipid body 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert J. H. Hammond
    • 1
  • Vincent O. Baron
    • 1
  • Sam Lipworth
    • 2
  • Stephen H. Gillespie
    • 1
  1. 1.School of MedicineUniversity of St AndrewsSt AndrewsUK
  2. 2.Department of Tropical Medicine and Global HealthUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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