Bioluminescent Monitoring of In Vivo Colonization and Clearance Dynamics by Light-Emitting Bacteria

  • Siouxsie Wiles
  • Brian D. Robertson
  • Gad Frankel
  • Angela Kerton
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology™ book series (MIMB, volume 574)


Bioluminescence is an excellent reporter system for analysing bacterial colonization and clearance dynamics in vivo. Many bacterial species have been rendered bioluminescent, allowing the sensitive detection of bacterial burden and metabolic activity in real-time and in situ in living animals. In this chapter we describe the protocols for characterizing in vivo infection models using bioluminescent bacteria: from real-time imaging in living animals by bioluminescence imaging (BLI) to ex vivo BLI of harvested organs and tissues and, finally, to quantification of bacterial numbers in organ and tissue homogenates by luminometry and viable counts. While the lux operon from Photorhabdus luminescens is ideally suited for use in such models, there may be times when alternative luciferases, such as those from the firefly (luc) or marine copepods (Gluc), may be more appropriate. Here we describe the protocols required to monitor colonization and clearance dynamics using bioluminescent bacteria that are lux-, luc-, or Gluc-positive.

Key words

Bioluminescence imaging bacteria in vivo infection model colonization dynamics luminometry luciferase luciferin coelenterazine 



The authors would like to thank the Wellcome Trust for supporting this work.


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Copyright information

© Humana Press, a part of Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Siouxsie Wiles
    • 1
  • Brian D. Robertson
    • 1
  • Gad Frankel
    • 2
  • Angela Kerton
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Infectious Diseases and ImmunityImperial College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Division of Cell and Molecular BiologyImperial CollegeLondonUK
  3. 3.Central Biomedical ServicesImperial CollegeLondonUK

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