A new analysis method for evaluating bacterial growth with microplate readers

by Krishnamurthi, Venkata Rao; Niyonshuti, Isabelle I.; Chen, Jingyi; Wang, Yong

Growth curve measurements are commonly used in microbiology, while the use of microplate readers for such measurements provides better temporal resolution and higher throughput. However, evaluating bacterial growth with microplate readers has been hurdled by barriers such as multiple scattering. Here, we report our development of a method based on the time derivatives of the optical density (OD) and/or fluorescence (FL) of bacterial cultures to overcome these barriers. First, we illustrated our method using quantitative models and numerical simulations, which predicted the number of bacteria and the number of fluorescent proteins in time as well as their time derivatives. Then, we systematically investigated how the time derivatives depend on the parameters in the models/simulations, providing a framework for understanding the FL growth curves. In addition, as a demonstration, we applied our method to study the lag time elongation of bacteria subjected to treatment with silver (Ag+) ions and found that the results from our method corroborated well with that from growth curve fitting by the Gompertz model that has been commonly used in the literature. Furthermore, this method was applied to the growth of bacteria in the presence of silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) at various concentrations, where the OD curve measurements failed. We showed that our method allowed us to successfully extract the growth behavior of the bacteria from the FL measurements and understand how the growth was affected by the AgNPs.

PLoS One