A simple and efficient method for poly-3-hydroxybutyrate quantification in diazotrophic bacteria within 5 minutes using flow cytometry

The conventional method for quantification of polyhydroxyalkanoates based on whole-cell methanolysis and gas chromatography (GC) is laborious and time-consuming. In this work, a method based on flow cytometry of Nile red stained bacterial cells was established to quantify poly-3-hydroxybutyrate (PHB) production by the diazotrophic and plant-associated bacteria, Herbaspirillum seropedicae and Azospirillum brasilense. The method consists of three steps: i) cell permeabilization, ii) Nile red staining, and iii) analysis by flow cytometry. The method was optimized step-by-step and can be carried out in less than 5 min. The final results indicated a high correlation coefficient (R2=0.99) compared to a standard method based on methanolysis and GC. This method was successfully applied to the quantification of PHB in epiphytic bacteria isolated from rice roots.