Features & Benefits

Culture Shock: OD600 Measurement in Anaerobic Conditions

by Colten Wimmer
 – Culture Shock: OD600 Measurement in Anaerobic Conditions

For microbiologists, the outcome of measuring a solution with slight variations in yellow hue is crucial for numerous exciting experiments. Answering simple questions like cell count, growth phase, and harvest time, can be needlessly complicated. Aside from the challenge of finding a working photometer, obtaining reliable measurements in the required anaerobic environment is particularly tough, especially with anaerobic bacteria.

Measurements in limited space are challenging

As a colleague of mine once put it, “those little anaerobes” are hard to cultivate. A major step on the way to ensuring the anaerobes can grow in their preferred environment is anaerobic chambers. Specially controlled chambers ensure precise anaerobic conditions including humidity, temperature, and composition for analyzing absorbance measurements and anaerobic bacterial growth curves. 

However, a challenge in monitoring bacterial culture growth within anaerobic chambers is the limited space available. Microplate readers or photometers commonly used for OD600 measurements are usually large, making them impractical for confined spaces. Additionally, harsh conditions inside the anaerobic chamber can corrode or otherwise damage standard microplate readers.

Example of a researcher working in an A35 anaerobic workstation Culture Shock: OD600 Measurement in Anaerobic Conditions Byonoy

Example of a researcher working in an A35 anaerobic workstation

Stunningly easy workflow for OD600 measurements

So, what’s the solution, you ask? Imagine if there were instruments that were just as capable as their counterparts, but 1/10th the size. Imagine these instruments could fit through the airlock of an anaerobic chamber: too good to be true, right? Wrong. When it comes to tight spaces, the Absorbance 96 microplate reader is up to the challenge.

The Absorbance 96 plate reader offers straightforward workflows for monitoring bacterial growth on the benchtop via OD600 measurements. Its footprint is just slightly larger than a 96-well microplate, enabling it to fit through the airlock of any anaerobic workstation. It further addresses the environmental challenges posed by being robust to high humidity and temperature conditions. Importantly, a comparative study has confirmed its robustness on par with other microplate readers in measuring OD values.

Using professional shakers for optimal results

After overcoming the environmental challenges, the issue of sedimentation remains. To prevent the bacteria from loitering, it’s useful to shake the living daylights out of them. While some microplate readers offer built-in shakers, these are often a pale imitation of real shakers, not offering sufficient RPM to achieve the desired effect (absolute microbial bedlam, i.e. the AMB state).

TheAbsorbance 96 microplate reader, being small, can easily connect to any SBS-format shaker using an adapter. These shakers are common lab equipment that you may already have, saving you from additional expenses.

Usage of Absorbance 96 with SBS-format shaker for optimal results Culture Shock: OD600 Measurement in Anaerobic Conditions Byonoy

Usage of Absorbance 96 with SBS-format shaker for optimal results

In summary

Despite challenges in cultivating bacteria from the gut microbiome and anaerobic environments, companies innovate in environmental control and hardware miniaturization to overcome hurdles. The compact Absorbance 96 microplate reader, designed to fit through any airlock, serves as an ideal tool for studying bacteria in their unique environments.

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