Multiwavelength fluorescence studies of Bacillus bacterial spores
Thesis DisciplineMedical Physics
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
Fluorescence techniques are being considered for the detection and identification of bacterial spores. This thesis sets out to empirically characterize the detailed autofluorescence spectroscopic properties of spores and their target molecules. The multiwavelength fluorescence studies from a unique endogenous biomarker, dipicolinic acid (DPA) and its calcium salt (CaDPA) in bacterial spores are found to be useful for fluorescence characterization of spores. A systematic determination of the fluorescence profile of the major chemical components of Bacillus spores and the effect of UV irradiation on them has been performed in dry samples, wet paste and in aqueous solution. The thesis applies reliable tools for accurately describing complex nature of spectral profile from bacterial spores, and for interpreting and identifying their spectral properties. We show that multiwavelength fluorescence technique combined with Principal Component Analysis (PCA) clearly indicates identifiable grouping among dry and wet Bacillus spore species. Differences are also observed between dried, wet and redried spores, indicating the stark effect of hydration on fluorescence fingerprints. The study revealed that changes in fluorescence of spores due to hydration/drying were reversible and supports a recent model of a dynamic and dormant spore structure. The spectra were analysed with PCA, revealing several spectroscopically characteristic features enabling spore species separation. The identified spectral features could be attributed to specific spore chemical components by comparing the spore sample signals with spectra obtained from the target molecules. PCA indicated underlying spectral patterns strongly related to species and the derived components were correlated with the chemical composition of the spore samples. More importantly, we examined and compared the fluorescence of normal spores with a mutant of the same strain whose spores lack DPA. We discovered that the dramatic fluorescence enhancement of Bacillus spores can be caused by UV irradiation in the spectral region of this unique biomarker without any pre treatment. Differences between spectra of spores, spore strains and other biological samples are very marked and are due to the dominance of the dipicolinate features in the spore spectra. This could lead to a cheap, more sensitive, faster and reagentless bacterial spore detector.