Luminescence-based nonextractive technique for in situ detection of Escherichia coli in soil

E. A S Rattray, J. I. Prosser*, K. Killham, L. A. Glover

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

111 Citations (Scopus)


Measurement of light output by luminometry was used to estimate quantitatively the cell concentrations of luminescent strains of Escherichia coli in liquid culture and inoculated into soil. Strains were constructed in which luciferase production was autoinducible or constitutive. In the former, light output per cell varied considerably during growth but was constant in constitutive strains. In liquid culture, the lower detection limit was in the order of 102 cells ml-1. Sensitivity was reduced by approximately 1 order of magnitude for cells inoculated into soil, when 2 x 102 to 6 x 103 cells g of soil-1 could be detected. Light output measurements were obtained within 5 min of sampling, and luminometry therefore potentially offers a rapid and sensitive detection technique for genetically engineered microorganisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3368-3374
Number of pages7
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 1990


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