Identification of a reliable fixative solution to preserve the complex architecture of bacterial biofilms for scanning electron microscopy evaluation.
ABSTRACT: Bacterial biofilms are organized sessile communities of bacteria enclosed in extracellular polymeric substances (EPS). To analyze organization of bacteria and EPS in high resolution and high magnification by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), it is important to preserve the complex architecture of biofilms. Therefore, fixation abilities of formalin, glutaraldehyde, and Methacarn (methanol/chloroform/acetic acid-6:3:1) fixatives were evaluated to identify which fixative would best preserve the complex structure of bacterial biofilms. Economically important Gram-negative Mannheimia haemolytica, the major pathogen associated with bovine respiratory disease complex, and Gram-positive Staphylococcus aureus, the major cause of chronic mastitis in cattle, bacteria were selected since both form biofilms on solid-liquid interface. For SEM analysis, round glass coverslips were placed into the wells of 24-well plates and diluted M. haemolytica or S. aureus cultures were added, and incubated at 37°C for 48-72 h under static growth conditions. Culture media were aspirated and biofilms were fixed with an individual fixative for 48 h. SEM examination revealed that all three fixatives were effective preserving the bacterial cell morphology, however only Methacarn fixative could consistently preserve the complex structure of biofilms. EPS layers were clearly visible on the top, in the middle, and in the bottom of the biofilms with Methacarn fixative. Biomass and three-dimensional structure of the biofilms were further confirmed spectrophotometrically following crystal violet staining and by confocal microscopy after viability staining. These findings demonstrate that Methacarn fixative solution is superior to the other fixatives evaluated to preserve the complex architecture of biofilms grown on glass coverslips for SEM evaluation.
Project description:Histopathology is the most useful tool for diagnosis of a number of diseases, especially cancer. To be effective, histopathology requires that tissues be fixed prior to processing. Formalin is currently the most common histologic fixative, offering many advantages: it is cheap, readily available, and pathologists are routinely trained to examine tissues fixed in formalin. However, formalin fixation substantially degrades tissue DNA, hindering subsequent use in diagnostics and research. We therefore evaluated three alternative fixatives, TissueTek(®) Xpress(®) Molecular Fixative, modified methacarn, and PAXgene(®), all of which have been proposed as formalin alternatives, to determine their suitability for routine use in a veterinary diagnostic laboratory. This was accomplished by examining the histomorphology of sections produced from fixed tissues as well as the ability to amplify fragments from extracted DNA. Tissues were sampled from two dogs and four cats, fixed for 24-48 h, and processed routinely. While all fixatives produced acceptable histomorphology, formalin had significantly better morphologic characteristics than the other three fixatives. Alternative fixatives generally had better DNA amplification than formalin, although results varied somewhat depending on the tissue examined. While no fixative is yet ready to replace formalin, the alternative fixatives examined may be useful as adjuncts to formalin in diagnostic practices.
Project description:Many marine biology studies depend on field work on ships or remote sampling locations where sophisticated sample preservation techniques (e.g., high-pressure freezing) are often limited or unavailable. Our aim was to optimize the ultrastructural preservation of marine invertebrates, especially when working in the field. To achieve chemically-fixed material of the highest quality, we compared the resulting ultrastructure of gill tissue of the mussel Mytilus edulis when fixed with differently buffered EM fixatives for marine specimens (seawater, cacodylate and phosphate buffer) and a new fixative formulation with the non-toxic PHEM buffer (PIPES, HEPES, EGTA and MgCl2). All buffers were adapted for immersion fixation to form an isotonic fixative in combination with 2.5% glutaraldehyde. We showed that PHEM buffer based fixatives resulted in equal or better ultrastructure preservation when directly compared to routine standard fixatives. These results were also reproducible when extending the PHEM buffered fixative to the fixation of additional different marine invertebrate species, which also displayed excellent ultrastructural detail. We highly recommend the usage of PHEM-buffered fixation for the fixation of marine invertebrates.
Project description:Pathology archives harbor large amounts of formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue samples, used mainly in clinical diagnostics but also for research purposes. Introduction of heat-induced antigen retrieval has enabled the use of tissue samples for extensive immunohistochemical analysis, despite the fact that antigen retrieval may not recover all epitopes, owing to alterations of the native protein structure induced by formalin. The aim of this study was to investigate how different fixatives influence protein recognition by immunodetection methods in tissues, cell preparations, and protein lysates, as compared with formalin. Seventy-two affinity-purified polyclonal antibodies were used to evaluate seven different fixatives. The aldehyde-based fixative Glyo-fixx proved to be excellent for preservation of proteins in tissue detected by immunohistochemistry (IHC), similar to formalin. A non-aldehyde-based fixative, NEO-FIX was superior for fixation of cultured cells, in regard to morphology, and thereby also advantageous for IHC. Large variability in the amount of protein extracted from the differently fixed tissues was observed, and the HOPE fixative provided the overall highest yield of protein. In conclusion, morphological resolution and immunoreactivity were superior in tissues fixed with aldehyde-based fixatives, whereas the use of non-aldehyde-based fixatives can be advantageous in obtaining high protein yield for Western blot analysis. This manuscript contains online supplemental material at http://www.jhc.org. Please visit this article online to view these materials.
Project description:The myxobacteria are a family of soil bacteria that form biofilms of complex architecture, aligned multilayered swarms or fruiting body structures that are simple or branched aggregates containing myxospores. Here, we examined the structural role of matrix exopolysaccharide (EPS) in the organization of these surface-dwelling bacterial cells. Using time-lapse light and fluorescence microscopy, as well as transmission electron microscopy and focused ion beam/scanning electron microscopy (FIB/SEM) electron microscopy, we found that Myxococcus xanthus cell organization in biofilms is dependent on the formation of EPS microchannels. Cells are highly organized within the three-dimensional structure of EPS microchannels that are required for cell alignment and advancement on surfaces. Mutants lacking EPS showed a lack of cell orientation and poor colony migration. Purified, cell-free EPS retains a channel-like structure, and can complement EPS- mutant motility defects. In addition, EPS provides the cooperative structure for fruiting body formation in both the simple mounds of M. xanthus and the complex, tree-like structures of Chondromyces crocatus. We furthermore investigated the possibility that EPS impacts community structure as a shared resource facilitating cooperative migration among closely related isolates of M. xanthus.
Project description:Formalin-fixed tissue has been a mainstay of clinical pathology laboratories, but formalin alters many biomolecules, including nucleic acids and proteins. Meanwhile, frozen tissues contain better-preserved biomolecules, but tissue morphology is affected, limiting their diagnostic utility. Molecular fixatives promise to bridge this gap by simultaneously preserving morphology and biomolecules, enabling clinical diagnosis and molecular analyses on the same specimen. While previous reports have broadly evaluated the use of molecular fixative in various human tissues, we present here the first detailed assessment of the applicability of molecular fixative to both routine histopathological diagnosis and molecular analysis of cervical tissues. Ten specimens excised via the loop electrosurgical excision procedure, which removes conical tissue samples from the cervix, were cut into alternating pieces preserved in either formalin or molecular fixative. Cervical specimens preserved in molecular fixative were easily interpretable, despite featuring more eosinophilic cytoplasm and more recognizable chromatin texture than formalin-fixed specimens. Immunohistochemical staining patterns of p16 and Ki-67 were similar between fixatives, although Ki-67 staining was stronger in the molecular fixative specimens. The RNA of molecular fixative specimens from seven cases representing various dysplasia grades was assessed for utility in expression microarray analysis. Cluster analysis and scatter plots of duplicate samples suggest that data of sufficient quality can be obtained from as little as 50ng of RNA from molecular fixative samples. Taken together, our results show that molecular fixative may be a more versatile substitute for formalin, simultaneously preserving tissue morphology for clinical diagnosis and biomolecules for immunohistochemistry and gene expression analysis.
Project description:Formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue is the predominant preparation for diagnostic histopathological evaluation and increasingly the biospecimen on which molecular diagnostics are performed. However, formalin is carcinogenic and results in cross-linking of proteins and nicking and alterations of nucleic acids. Alternative fixatives, including 70% ethanol, improved biomolecular integrity; however, they have yet to replace neutral-buffered formalin (NBF). Herein, we describe the phosphate-buffered ethanol 70% (BE70) fixative. The histomorphology of BE70-fixed tissue is very similar to that of NBF; however, it is a non-cross-linking fixative and lacks the carcinogenic profile of formaldehyde-based fixatives. RNA isolated from tissue fixed in BE70 was of substantially higher quality and quantity than that was recovered from formalin-fixed tissue. Furthermore, the BE70 fixative showed excellent RNA and DNA integrity compared with that of NBF fixative based on real-time polymerase chain reaction analysis results. Immunohistochemical staining was similar for the antigen tested. In conclusion, BE70 is a non-cross-linking fixative that is superior to NBF and 70% ethanol with reference to biomolecule recovery and quality from paraffin-embedded tissue. Additional studies to compare the histomorphologic and immunohistochemical performance and utility in a clinical setting are required.
Project description:H. seropedicae associates endophytically and epiphytically with important poaceous crops and is capable of promoting their growth. The molecular mechanisms involved in plant colonization by this microrganism are not fully understood. Exopolysaccharides (EPS) are usually necessary for bacterial attachment to solid surfaces, to other bacteria, and to form biofilms. The role of H. seropedicae SmR1 exopolysaccharide in biofilm formation on both inert and plant substrates was assessed by characterization of a mutant in the espB gene which codes for a glucosyltransferase. The mutant strain was severely affected in EPS production and biofilm formation on glass wool. In contrast, the plant colonization capacity of the mutant strain was not altered when compared to the parental strain. The requirement of EPS for biofilm formation on inert surface was reinforced by the induction of eps genes in biofilms grown on glass and polypropylene. On the other hand, a strong repression of eps genes was observed in H. seropedicae cells adhered to maize roots. Our data suggest that H. seropedicae EPS is a structural component of mature biofilms, but this development stage of biofilm is not achieved during plant colonization.
Project description:The micro-morphology of leaf epidermises is valuable for the study of leaf development and function, as well as the classification of plant species. There have been few studies comparing different preparation and imaging methods for visualizing the leaf epidermis. Here, four specimen preparation methods were used to investigate the leaf epidermis morphology of Arabidopsis, radish, cucumber, wheat, rice, and maize, under an inverted basic light microscope (LM), a laser scanning confocal microscope (LSCM), or a scanning electron microscope (SEM). Optical microscope specimens were obtained using either the direct isolation method or the chloral hydrate-based clearing method. SEM images were obtained using a standard stage for conventional dehydrated samples or a Coolstage for fresh tissue. Different parts of epidermis peels were well focused under the LM. Investigation of samples cleared by chloral hydrate is convenient and autofluorescence of cell walls can be detected in rice. The resolution of images of conventional SEM leaf samples was generally higher than the Coolstage images at the same magnification, whereas local collapse and shrinkage were observed in leaves with high water content when using the conventional method. However, stomatal apparatuses of Arabidopsis, cucumber, radish, and maize deformed and showed poor appearance when using the Coolstage. Moreover, we usually used glutaraldehyde as an SEM fixative when using t-butanol for freeze-drying, though methanol is considered a better fixative in recent studies. In addition, fresh samples were not stable on the Coolstage. Thus, we compared four different t-butanol freeze-drying methods and two Coolstage methods. The dimension and morphology of tissues were compared using the six different methods. The results indicate that methanol fixative obviously reduced shrinkage of SEM samples compared with glutaraldehyde and formaldehyde alcohol acetic acid (FAA) fixatives. The use of methanol and a graded series of steps improved the preservation of samples. Preparing samples with optimal cutting temperature compound and observing at -30°C helped to increase the stability of Coolstage samples. In summary, our results provide an overview of the shortcomings and merits of four different methods, and might provide some information about choosing an optimal method for visualizing epidermal morphology.
Project description:Interferometric Photo-Activation-Localization-Microscopy (iPALM) localizes single fluorescent molecules with 20 nm lateral and 10 nm axial resolution. We present a method utilizing glass coverslip lithography for correlative imaging between iPALM and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Using iPALM on HIV Gag-Dendra virus-like particles (VLPs) we localized the position of HIV Gag proteins. Based on these localizations we reconstructed the central cavity of the VLPs along with imperfections within the HIV Gag lattice. The SEM images and iPALM images overlap and show imaging from single VLPs immobilized on glass coverslips. The localization of many HIV proteins including accessory proteins and Gag-Pol remains unknown, we discuss how the specificity of iPALM coupled with SEM has the potential for resolving more of HIV proteins.
Project description:Acquisition of a mucoid phenotype by Pseudomonas sp. in the lungs of cystic fibrosis (CF) patients, with subsequent over-production of extracellular polymeric substance (EPS), plays an important role in mediating the persistence of multi-drug resistant (MDR) infections. The ability of a low molecular weight (Mn = 3200 g mol-1) alginate oligomer (OligoG CF-5/20) to modify biofilm structure of mucoid Pseudomonas aeruginosa (NH57388A) was studied in vitro using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) with Texas Red (TxRd®)-labelled OligoG and EPS histochemical staining. Structural changes in treated biofilms were quantified using COMSTAT image-analysis software of CLSM z-stack images, and nanoparticle diffusion. Interactions between the oligomers, Ca2+ and DNA were studied using molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC). Imaging demonstrated that OligoG treatment (≥0.5%) inhibited biofilm formation, revealing a significant reduction in both biomass and biofilm height (P < 0.05). TxRd®-labelled oligomers readily diffused into established (24 h) biofilms. OligoG treatment (≥2%) induced alterations in the EPS of established biofilms; significantly reducing the structural quantities of EPS polysaccharides, and extracellular (e)DNA (P < 0.05) with a corresponding increase in nanoparticle diffusion (P < 0.05) and antibiotic efficacy against established biofilms. ITC demonstrated an absence of rapid complex formation between DNA and OligoG and confirmed the interactions of OligoG with Ca2+ evident in FTIR and MD modelling. The ability of OligoG to diffuse into biofilms, potentiate antibiotic activity, disrupt DNA-Ca2+-DNA bridges and biofilm EPS matrix highlights its potential for the treatment of biofilm-related infections.