Vibrational spectroscopy as a sensitive probe for the chemistry of intra-phase bacterial growth

Kamila Kochan, Elizabeth Lai, Zack Richardson, Cara Nethercott, Anton Y. Peleg, Philip Heraud, Bayden R. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Bacterial growth in batch cultures occurs in four phases (lag, exponential/log, stationary and death phase) that differ distinctly in number of different bacteria, biochemistry and physiology. Knowledge regarding the growth phase and its kinetics is essential for bacterial research, especially in taxonomic identification and monitoring drug interactions. However, the conventional methods by which to assess microbial growth are based only on cell counting or optical density, without any insight into the biochemistry of cells or processes. Both Raman and Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy have shown potential to determine the chemical changes occurring between different bacterial growth phases. Here, we extend the application of spectroscopy and for the first time combine both Raman and FTIR microscopy in a multimodal approach to detect changes in the chemical compositions of bacteria within the same phase (intra-phase). We found a number of spectral markers associated with nucleic acids (IR: 964, 1082, 1215 cm−1; RS: 785, 1483 cm−1), carbohydrates (IR: 1035 cm−1; RS: 1047 cm−1) and proteins (1394 cm−1, amide II) reflecting not only inter-, but also intra-phase changes in bacterial chemistry. Principal component analysis performed simultaneously on FTIR and Raman spectra enabled a clear-cut, time-dependent discrimination between intra-lag phase bacteria probed every 30 min. This demonstrates the unique capability of multimodal vibrational spectroscopy to probe the chemistry of bacterial growth even at the intra-phase level, which is particularly important for the lag phase, where low bacterial numbers limit conventional analytical approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3452
Number of pages13
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2020


  • ATR
  • Growth phase
  • Lag phase
  • Raman
  • S. aureus

Cite this