Genetic screening for bacterial mutants in liquid growth media by fluorescence-activated cell sorting.

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Many bacterial pathogens have defined in vitro virulence inducing conditions in liquid media which lead to production of virulence factors important during an infection. Identifying mutants that no longer respond to virulence inducing conditions will increase our understanding of bacterial pathogenesis. However, traditional genetic screens require growth on solid media. Bacteria in a single colony are in every phase of the growth curve, which complicates the analysis and makes screens for growth phase-specific mutants problematic. Here, we utilize fluorescence-activated cell sorting in conjunction with random transposon mutagenesis to isolate bacteria grown in liquid media that are defective in virulence activation. This method permits analysis of an entire bacterial population in real time and selection of individual bacterial mutants with the desired gene expression profile at any time point after induction. We have used this method to identify Vibrio cholerae mutants defective in virulence induction.

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Journal of microbiological methods

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