Standard methods of monitoring the growth kinetics of anaerobic microorganisms are generally impractical when there is a protracted or indeterminate period of active growth, and when high numbers of samples or replications are required. As part of our studies of the adaptive evolution of a simple anaerobic syntrophic mutualism, requiring the characterization of many isolates and alternative syntrophic pairings, we developed a multiplexed growth monitoring system using a combination of commercially available electronics and custom designed circuitry and materials. This system automatically monitors up to 64 sealed, and as needed pressurized, culture tubes and reports the growth data in real-time through integration with a customized relational database. The utility of this system was demonstrated by resolving minor differences in growth kinetics associated with the adaptive evolution of a simple microbial community comprised of a sulfate reducing bacterium, Desulfovibrio vulgaris, grown in syntrophic association with Methanococcus maripaludis, a hydrogenotrophic methanogen.
- Optical density