Digital image analysis of growth and starvation responses of a surface-colonizing acinetobacter sp.
James, Garth A.
Korber, D. R.
Caldwell, D. E.
Costerton, J. William
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Surface growth of an Acinetobacter sp. cultivated under several nutrient regimens was examined by using continuous-flow slide culture, phase-contrast microscopy, scanning confocal laser microscopy, and computer image analysis. Irrigation of attached coccoid stationary-phase Acinetobacter sp. cells with high-nutrient medium resulted in a transition from coccoid to bacillar morphology. Digital image analysis revealed that this transition was biphasic. During phase I, both the length and the width of cells increased. In contrast, cell width remained constant during phase II, while both cell length and cell area increased at a rate greater than in phase I. Cells were capable of growth and division without morphological transition when irrigated with a low-nutrient medium. Rod-shaped cells reverted to cocci by reduction-division when irrigated with starvation medium. This resulted in conservation of cell area (biomass) with an increase in cell number. In addition, the changes in cell morphology were accompanied by changes in the stability of cell attachment. During phase I, coccoid cells remained firmly attached. Following transition in high-nutrient medium, bacillar cells displayed detachment, transient attachment, and drifting behaviors, resulting in a spreading colonization pattern. In contrast, cells irrigated with a low-nutrient medium remained firmly attached to the surface and eventually formed tightly packed microcolonies. It is hypothesized that the coccoid and bacillar Acinetobacter sp. morphotypes and associated behavior represent specialized physiological adaptations for attachment and colonization in low-nutrient systems (coccoid morphotype) or dispersion under high-nutrient conditions (bacillar morphotype).
James, G.A., D.R. Korber, D.E. Caldwell, and J. W. Costerton, "Digital Image Analysis of Growth and Starvation Responses of a Surface-Colonizing Acinetobacter sp.," Journal of Bacteriology, 177(4):907-915 (1995).