Improved microautoradiographic method to determine individual microorganisms active in substrate uptake in natural waters

Appl Environ Microbiol. 1982 Oct;44(4):945-53. doi: 10.1128/aem.44.4.945-953.1982.


We report a method which combines epifluorescence microscopy and microautoradiography to determine both the total number of microorganisms in natural water populations and those individual organisms active in the uptake of specific substrates. After incubation with H-labeled substrate, the sample is filtered and, while still on the filter, mounted directly in a film of autoradiographic emulsion on a microscope slide. The microautoradiogram is processed and stained with acridine orange, and, subsequently, the filter is removed before microscopic observation. This novel preparation resulted in increased accuracy in direct counts made from the autoradiogram, improved sensitivity in the recognition of uptake-active (H-labeled) organisms, and enumeration of a significantly greater number of labeled organisms compared with corresponding samples prepared by a previously reported method.