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Comparison of Psychro-active Arctic Marine Bacteria and Common Mesophillic Bacteria Using Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy

Volume 59, Number 10 (Oct. 2005) Page 1222-1228

Laucks, Mary L.; Sengupta, Atanu; Junge, Karen; Davis, E. James; Swanson, Brian D.

Psychro-active bacteria, important constituents of polar ecosystems, have a unique ability to remain active at temperatures below 0 °C, yet it is not known to what extent the composition of their outer cell surfaces aids in their low-temperature viability. In this study, aqueous suspensions of five strains of Arctic psychro-active marine bacteria (PAMB) (mostly sea-ice isolates), were characterized by surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) and compared with SERS spectra from E. coli and P. aerigunosa. We find the SERS spectra of the five psychro-active bacterial strains are similar within experimental reproducibility. However, these spectra are significantly different from the spectra of P. aeruginosa and E. coli. We find that the relative intensities of many of the common peaks show the largest differences reported so far for bacterial samples. An indication of a peak was found in the PAMB spectra that has been identified as characteristic of unsaturated fatty acids and suggests that the outer membranes of the PAMB may contain unsaturated fatty acids. We find that using suspensions of silver colloid particles greatly intensifies the Raman peaks and quenches the fluorescence from bacterial samples. This technique is useful for examination of specific biochemical differences among bacteria.