Monitoring functions in managed microbial systems by cytometric bar coding
Cytometric monitoring of microbial community dynamics can be used to estimate stability of technical microbial processes like biogas production by analysis of segregated cell abundance changes. In this study, structure variations of a biogas community were cytometrically recorded over 9 months and found to be of diagnostic value for process details. The reactor regime was intentionally disturbed with regard to substrate overload or H(2)S accumulation. A single-cell based approach called cytometric bar coding (CyBar) for fast identification of reactive subcommunities was used. Functionality of specific subcommunities was uncovered by processing CyBar data with abiotic reactor parameters using Spearman's correlation coefficient. Twenty subcommunities showed a discrete and divergent behavior. For example, a 4-fold substrate overload increased the cell number of two acidogenic index subcommunities to 176 and 193% within three days. Supplementary analyses were done using DNA fingerprinting, cloning, and sequencing. Bioreactor perturbations were shown to create cell abundance changes in subcommunities rather than variations in their phylogenetic composition. The used workflow and macros are ready-to-use tools and allow on-site monitoring and interpretation of variation in microbial community functions within a few hours.