Measuring Chemical Changes Inside Living Cells at the Advanced Light Source (ALS)


Understanding how microbes adapt to changing chemical environments is a critical aspect of being able to “put microbes to work” solving DOE challenges.  Berkeley Lab scientists have now shown that Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectromicroscopy at the ALS can follow cellular chemistry within living microbes in real time.  The synchrotron FTIR technique provides a powerful new tool to understand the response of living cells to chemical stresses involved in synthesis of biofuels compounds, breakdown of cellulosic biomass, and a wide variety of other systems relevant to DOE missions.  Being able to make these dynamic measurements continuously inside selected living cells dramatically increases the usefulness and reliability of information that traditionally is derived from cells that have been killed and broken apart.  A new experimental station is nearing completion at the ALS to enable further biological and environmental applications of the technology.


Hoi-Ying N. Holman, Eleanor Wozei, Zhang Lin, Luis R. Comolli, David A. Ball, Sharon Borglin, Matthew W. Fields, Terry C. Hazen, and Kenneth H. Downing “Real-time molecular monitoring of chemical environment in obligate anaerobes during oxygen adaptive response,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), 106:12599-12604; (August 4, 2009).