Evaluating use of ferricyanide-mediated respiration bioassays to quantify stimulatory and inhibitory effects on Escherichia coli populations
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A number of recent studies have utilised ferricyanide as a respiratory mediator for microbial-based assays for determining water quality parameters such as biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and toxicity. The majority of assays published to date obtain a result by determining the difference in ferrocyanide accumulation between a test sample and one or more control samples. However, a validation of the relationship between ferrocyanide accumulation and standard measures of cell density or viability has not yet been performed. To this end, a rapid microbially catalysed ferricyanide-mediated respiration (FM-RES) assay was compared with standard plate count (SPC) and spectrophotometer (OD600) measurements on a growing batch culture of Escherichia coli. Good agreement was observed between all techniques, with predictable deviations noted in different phases of the growth curves. Standardised FM-RES assays showed excellent correlations with the SPC method under controlled conditions, indicating that short-term changes in microbial activity are due to a change in per-cell respiration, rather than changes in cell numbers. The FM-RES assay was then used to observe the changes in the respiration of E. coli induced by the addition of a glucose-glutamic acid (GGA) mixture, 3,5-dichlorophenol (3,5-DCP) and Ag+ in various combinations and concentrations. Stimulation of respiration was pronounced in the presence of GGA while both 3,5-DCP and, in particular, Ag+ demonstrated inhibitory respiratory effects. The results highlight the validity and suitability of ferricyanide-mediated respiration bioassays, with appropriate modification, to monitor either stimulatory effects on microbial populations, such as occurs with BOD, or inhibitory effects, such as occurs with toxicity assays.
Analytical Chemistry not elsewhere classified