Considerations in the use of fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and confocal laser scanning microscopy to characterize rumen methanogens and define their spatial distributions.

Valle, E.R., Henderson, G., Janssen, P.H., Cox, F., Alexander, T.W., and McAllister, T.A. (2015). "Considerations in the use of fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and confocal laser scanning microscopy to characterize rumen methanogens and define their spatial distributions.", Canadian Journal of Microbiology, 61(6), pp. 417-428. doi : 10.1139/cjm-2014-0873  Access to full text

Abstract

In this study, methanogen-specific coenzyme F420 autofluorescence and confocal laser scanning microscopy were used to identify rumen methanogens and define their spatial distribution in free-living, biofilm-, and protozoa-associated microenvironments. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) with temperature-controlled hybridization was used in an attempt to describe methanogen diversity. A heat pretreatment (65 °C, 1 h) was found to be a noninvasive method to increase probe access to methanogen RNA targets. Despite efforts to optimize FISH, 16S rRNA methanogen-specific probes, including Arch915, bound to some cells that lacked F420, possibly identifying uncharacterized Methanomassiliicoccales or reflecting nonspecific binding to other members of the rumen bacterial community. A probe targeting RNA from the methanogenesis-specific methyl coenzyme M reductase (mcr) gene was shown to detect cultured Methanosarcinacells with signal intensities comparable to those of 16S rRNA probes. However, the probe failed to hybridize with the majority of F420-emitting rumen methanogens, possibly because of differences in cell wall permeability among methanogen species. Methanogens were shown to integrate into microbial biofilms and to exist as ecto- and endosymbionts with rumen protozoa. Characterizing rumen methanogens and defining their spatial distribution may provide insight into mitigation strategies for ruminal methanogenesis.

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