Native fluorescence and excitation spectroscopic changes in Bacillus subtilis and Staphylococcus aureus bacteria subjected to conditions of starvation
Fluorescence emission and excitation spectra were measured over a 7-day period for Bacillus subtilis (Bs), a spore-forming, and Staphylococcus aureus (Sa), a nonspore-forming bacteria subjected to conditions of starvation. Initially, the Bs fluorescence was predominantly due to the amino acid tryptophan. Later, a fluorescence band with an emission peak at 410 nm and excitation peak at 345 nm, from dipicolinic acid, appeared. Dipicolinic acid is produced during spore formation and serves as a spectral signature for detection of spores. The intensity of the 410-nm band continued to increase over the next 3 days. The Sa fluorescence was predominantly from tryptophan and did not change over time. In 6 of the 17 Bs specimens studied, an additional band appeared with a weak emission peak at 460 nm and excitation peaks at 250, 270, and 400 nm. The addition of β-hydroxybutyric acid to the Bs or the Sa cultures resulted in a two-order of magnitude increase in the 460-nm emission. The addition of Fe2+ quenched the 460 emission, indicating that a source of the 460-nm emission was a siderophore produced by the bacteria. We demonstrate that optical spectroscopy-based instrumentation can detect bacterial spores in real time.