When fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) analyses are performed with complex environmental samples, difficulties related to the presence of microbial cell aggregates and nonuniform background fluorescence are often encountered. The objective of this study was to develop a robust and automated quantitative FISH method for complex environmental samples, such as manure and soil. The method and duration of sample dispersion were optimized to reduce the interference of cell aggregates. An automated image analysis program that detects cells from 4′,6′-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI) micrographs and extracts the maximum and mean fluorescence intensities for each cell from corresponding FISH images was developed with the software Visilog. Intensity thresholds were not consistent even for duplicate analyses, so alternative ways of classifying signals were investigated. In the resulting method, the intensity data were divided into clusters using fuzzy c-means clustering, and the resulting clusters were classified as target (positive) or nontarget (negative). A manual quality control confirmed this classification. With this method, 50.4, 72.1, and 64.9% of the cells in two swine manure samples and one soil sample, respectively, were positive as determined with a 16S rRNA-targeted bacterial probe (S-D-Bact-0338-a-A-18). Manual counting resulted in corresponding values of 52.3, 70.6, and 61.5%, respectively. In two swine manure samples and one soil sample 21.6, 12.3, and 2.5% of the cells were positive with an archaeal probe (S-D-Arch-0915-a-A-20), respectively. Manual counting resulted in corresponding values of 22.4, 14.0, and 2.9%, respectively. This automated method should facilitate quantitative analysis of FISH images for a variety of complex environmental samples.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Science
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology