Development of an agar lift-DNA/DNA hybridization technique for use in visualization of the spatial distribution of Eubacteria on soil surfaces

Fiona L. Jordan, Raina M. Maier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


While microbial growth is well-understood in pure culture systems, less is known about growth in intact soil systems. The objective of this work was to develop a technique to allow visualization of the two-dimensional spatial distribution of bacterial growth on a homogenous soil surface. This technique is a two-step process wherein an agar lift is taken and analyzed using a universal gene probe. An agar lift is comprised of a thin layer of soil that is removed from a soil surface using an agar slab. The agar is incubated to allow for microbial growth, after which, colonies are transferred to a membrane for conventional bacterial colony DNA/DNA hybridization analysis. In this study, a eubacterial specific probe was used to demonstrate that growing bacterial populations on soil surfaces could be visualized. Results show that microbial growth and distribution was nonuniform across the soil surface. Spot supplementation of the soil with benzoate or glucose resulted in a localized microbial growth response. Since only growing colonies are detected, this technique should facilitate a greater understanding of the microbial distribution and its response to substrate addition in more heterogenous soil systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-117
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Microbiological Methods
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Oct 1 1999



  • Bacterial growth
  • Colony hybridization
  • Microbial spatial distribution
  • Soil surfaces

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Microbiology (medical)

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