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Label-Free in Situ Discrimination of Live and Dead Bacteria by Surface-Enhanced Raman Scattering

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journal contribution
posted on 07.07.2015, 00:00 by Haibo Zhou, Danting Yang, Natalia P. Ivleva, Nicoleta E. Mircescu, Sören Schubert, Reinhard Niessner, Andreas Wieser, Christoph Haisch
Techniques to distinguish between live and dead bacteria in a quantitative manner are in high demand in numerous fields including medical care, food safety, and public security as well as basic science research. This work demonstrates new nanostructures (silver nanoparticles coating bacteria structure, Bacteria@AgNPs) and their utility for rapid counting of live and dead bacteria by surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS). We found that suspensions containing Gram-negative organisms as well as AgNPs give strong SERS signals of live bacteria when generated selectively on the particle surface. However, almost no SERS signals can be detected from Bacteria@AgNPs suspensions containing dead bacteria. We demonstrate successful quantification of different percentages of dead bacteria both in bulk liquid and on glass surfaces by using SERS mapping on a single cell basis. Furthermore, different chemicals have been used to elucidate the mechanism involved in this observation. Finally, we used the Bacteria@AgNPs method to detect antibiotic resistance of E. coli strains against several antibiotics used in human medicine.