Physiological changes induced in four bacterial strains following oxidative stress

Prikl Biokhim Mikrobiol. Jul-Aug 2006;42(4):418-27.


In order to study the behaviour and resistance of bacteria under extreme conditions, physiological changes associated with oxidative stress were monitored using flow cytometry. The study was conducted to assess the maintenance of membrane integrity and potential as well as the esterase activity, the intracellular pH and the production of superoxide anions in four bacterial strains (Ralstonia metallidurans, Escherichia coli, Shewanella oneidensis and Deinococcus radiodurans). The strains were chosen for their potential usefulness in bioremediation. Suspensions of R. metallidurans, E. coli, S. oneidensis and D. radiodurans were submitted to 1 h oxidative stress (H2O2 at various concentrations from 0 to 880 mM). Cell membrane permeability (propidium iodide) and potential (rhodamine-123, 3,3'-dihexyloxacarbocyanine iodide), intracellular esterase activity (fluorescein diacetate), intracellular reactive oxygen species concentration (hydroethidine) and intracellular pH (carboxyflurorescein diacetate succinimidyl ester (5(6)) were monitored to evaluate the physiological state and the overall fitness of individual bacterial cells under oxidative stress. The four bacterial strains exhibited varying sensitivities towards H2O2. However, for all bacterial strains, some physiological damage could already be observed from 13.25 mM H2O2 onwards, in particular with regard to their membrane permeability. Depending on the bacterial strains, moderate to high physiological damage could be observed between 13.25 mM and 220 mM H2O2. Membrane potential, esterase activity, intracellular pH and production of superoxide anion production were considerably modified at high H2O2 concentrations in all four strains. In conclusion, we show that a range of significant physiological alterations occurs when bacteria are challenged with H2O2 and fluorescent staining methods coupled with flow cytometry are useful for monitoring the changes induced not only by oxidative stress but also by other stresses like temperature, radiation, pressure, pH, etc....

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Cell Membrane Permeability / drug effects*
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / pharmacology*
  • Membrane Potentials / drug effects
  • Oxidants / pharmacology*
  • Oxidation-Reduction / drug effects
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*


  • Oxidants
  • Hydrogen Peroxide