Coincubation Assay for Quantifying Competitive Interactions between Vibrio fischeri Isolates

J Vis Exp. 2019 Jul 22:(149). doi: 10.3791/59759.


This manuscript describes a culture-based, coincubation assay for detecting and characterizing competitive interactions between two bacterial populations. This method employs stable plasmids that allow each population to be differentially tagged with distinct antibiotic resistance capabilities and fluorescent proteins for selection and visual discrimination of each population, respectively. Here, we describe the preparation and coincubation of competing Vibrio fischeri strains, fluorescence microscopy imaging, and quantitative data analysis. This approach is simple, yields quick results, and can be used to determine whether one population kills or inhibits the growth of another population, and whether competition is mediated through a diffusible molecule or requires direct cell-cell contact. Because each bacterial population expresses a different fluorescent protein, the assay permits the spatial discrimination of competing populations within a mixed colony. Although the described methods are performed with the symbiotic bacterium V. fischeri using conditions optimized for this species, the protocol can be adapted for most culturable bacterial isolates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Aliivibrio fischeri / drug effects
  • Aliivibrio fischeri / growth & development
  • Aliivibrio fischeri / isolation & purification*
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial
  • Plasmids
  • Symbiosis