Efficient non-cytotoxic fluorescent staining of halophiles
Research on halophilic microorganisms is important due to their relation to fundamental questions of survival of living organisms in a hostile environment. Here we introduce a novel method to stain halophiles with MitoTracker fluorescent dyes in their growth medium. The method is based on membrane-potential sensitive dyes, which were originally used to label mitochondria in eukaryotic cells. We demonstrate that these fluorescent dyes provide high staining efficiency and are beneficial for multi-staining purposes due to the spectral range covered (from orange to deep red). In contrast with other fluorescent dyes used so far, MitoTracker does not affect growth rate, and remains in cells after several washing steps and several generations in cell culture. The suggested dyes were tested on three archaeal (Hbt. salinarum, Haloferax sp., Halorubrum sp.) and two bacterial (Salicola sp., Halomonas sp.) strains of halophilic microorganisms. The new staining approach provides new insights into biology of Hbt. salinarum. We demonstrated the interconversion of rod-shaped cells of Hbt. salinarium to spheroplasts and submicron-sized spheres, as well as the cytoplasmic integrity of giant rod Hbt. salinarum species. By expanding the variety of tools available for halophile detection, MitoTracker dyes overcome long-standing limitations in fluorescence microscopy studies of halophiles.
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