Title MINIREVIEW] High-resolution imaging of the microbial cell surface
Author Ki Woo Kim*
Address School of Ecology and Environmental System, Kyungpook National University, Sangju 37224, Republic of Korea , Tree Diagnostic Center, Kyungpook National University, Sangju 37224, Republic of Korea
Bibliography Journal of Microbiology, 54(11),703-708, 2016,
DOI 10.1007/s12275-016-6348-5
Key Words imaging, microscopy, surface, ultrastructure
Abstract Microorganisms, or microbes, can function as threatening pathogens that cause disease in humans, animals, and plants; however, they also act as litter decomposers in natural ecosystems. As the outermost barrier and interface with the environment, the microbial cell surface is crucial for cell-to-cell communication and is a potential target of chemotherapeutic agents. Surface ultrastructures of microbial cells have typically been observed using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). Owing to its characteristics of low-temperature specimen preparation and superb resolution (down to 1 nm), cryo-field emission SEM has revealed paired rodlets, referred to as hydrophobins, on the cell walls of bacteria and fungi. Recent technological advances in AFM have enabled high-speed live cell imaging in liquid at the nanoscale level, leading to clear visualization of celldrug interactions. Platinum-carbon replicas from freeze-fractured fungal spores have been observed using transmission electron microscopy, revealing hydrophobins with varying dimensions. In addition, AFM has been used to resolve bacteriophages in their free state and during infection of bacterial cells. Various microscopy techniques with enhanced spatial resolution, imaging speed, and versatile specimen preparation are being used to document cellular structures and events, thus addressing unanswered biological questions.