Laboratory Cultivation Techniques to Simulate Natural Community Structure. To identify the function of genes preferentially expressed by specific populations in a structured microbial community, such as those deconstructing biomass in soils or in a bioreactor, new cultivation techniques are being devised. During the past decade, researchers have developed reactors in which biofilms can be imaged using confocal scanning laser microscopy (CSLM) and other light-microscopic techniques (Wolfaardt et al. 1994). When combined with fluorescent in situ hybridization to distinguish populations of cells in multipopulation biofilms and fluorescent reporters (green fluorescent protein) of functional gene expression, CSLM has been used to demonstrate how gene expression by one population affects gene expression in another proximally located population (Moller et al. 1998). The mobile pilot-plant fermentor shown here has a 90-L capacity and currently is used to generate large volumes of cells and cell products such as outer-membrane vesicles under highly controlled conditions. Future generations of fermentors will be more highly instrumented with sophisticated imaging and other analytical devices to analyze interactions among cells in microbial communities under an array of conditions.
Credit or Source: Biological and Environmental Research Information System, Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy Biological and Environmental Research Program.
U.S. DOE. 2006. Breaking the Biological Barriers to Cellulosic Ethanol: A Joint Research Agenda, DOE/SC/EE-0095, U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science and Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. (p. 180) (website)
US DOE. 2005. Genomics:GTL Roadmap, DOE/SC-0090, U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science. (p. 180) (website)