CeBiTec Colloquium


Monday, May 14th 2012, 17 c.t.


G2-104, CeBiTec Building


Prof. Dr. Susann Müller

Environmental Microbiology, Centre for Environmental Reserach – UFZ, Leipzig


Using cytometric microbial structures as biosensor for community functioning


The still poorly explored world of microbial functioning is about to be uncovered by a combined appliance of old and new technologies. Especially bacteria are still in the dark both in view of their phylogenetic affiliation as well as their metabolic capabilities and functions.

However, with the advent of sophisticated flow cytometric and cell sorting technologies in microbiological labs there is now the possibility to gain this knowledge without cumbersome cultivation approaches. Wastewater treatment plants with enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR) represent a state-of-the-art technology. Nevertheless, the process of biological phosphate removal is prone to occasional failure. One reason is the lack of knowledge about the structure and function of the bacterial communities involved. Flow cytometry was used to identify bacteria capable of polyphosphate accumulation within such complex environments. The dynamics of cellular DNA-contents and cell sizes as growth indicators were determined in parallel to detect the most active polyphosphate accumulating individuals/sub-communities and to determine their phylogenetic affiliation upon cell sorting. The procedure is easy to perform, quick and cultivation-independent. We aim at combining this technique with phylogenetic analyses to give an on-line tool for monitoring EBPR stability and forming a basis for development and optimization of wastewater process control.


Dr. Andreas Schlüter