RNA Colony Blot Hybridization Method for Enumeration of Culturable Vibrio Cholerae and Vibrio Mimicus Bacteria

TitleRNA Colony Blot Hybridization Method for Enumeration of Culturable Vibrio Cholerae and Vibrio Mimicus Bacteria
Publication TypeJournal Articles
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsGrim CJ, Zo Y-G, Hasan NA, Ali A, Chowdhury WB, Islam A, Rashid MH, Alam M, J. Morris G, Huq A, Colwell RR
JournalApplied and Environmental MicrobiologyAppl. Environ. Microbiol.Applied and Environmental MicrobiologyAppl. Environ. Microbiol.
Type of Article10.1128/AEM.02007-08
ISBN Number0099-2240, 1098-5336

A species-specific RNA colony blot hybridization protocol was developed for enumeration of culturable Vibrio cholerae and Vibrio mimicus bacteria in environmental water samples. Bacterial colonies on selective or nonselective plates were lysed by sodium dodecyl sulfate, and the lysates were immobilized on nylon membranes. A fluorescently labeled oligonucleotide probe targeting a phylogenetic signature sequence of 16S rRNA of V. cholerae and V. mimicus was hybridized to rRNA molecules immobilized on the nylon colony lift blots. The protocol produced strong positive signals for all colonies of the 15 diverse V. cholerae-V. mimicus strains tested, indicating 100% sensitivity of the probe for the targeted species. For visible colonies of 10 nontarget species, the specificity of the probe was calculated to be 90% because of a weak positive signal produced by Grimontia (Vibrio) hollisae, a marine bacterium. When both the sensitivity and specificity of the assay were evaluated using lake water samples amended with a bioluminescent V. cholerae strain, no false-negative or false-positive results were found, indicating 100% sensitivity and specificity for culturable bacterial populations in freshwater samples when G. hollisae was not present. When the protocol was applied to laboratory microcosms containing V. cholerae attached to live copepods, copepods were found to carry approximately 10,000 to 50,000 CFU of V. cholerae per copepod. The protocol was also used to analyze pond water samples collected in an area of cholera endemicity in Bangladesh over a 9-month period. Water samples collected from six ponds demonstrated a peak in abundance of total culturable V. cholerae bacteria 1 to 2 months prior to observed increases in pathogenic V. cholerae and in clinical cases recorded by the area health clinic. The method provides a highly specific and sensitive tool for monitoring the dynamics of V. cholerae in the environment. The RNA blot hybridization protocol can also be applied to detection of other gram-negative bacteria for taxon-specific enumeration.