Bacteria are naturally found microbes that are integral to our ecology. They are not only vital for our health and our environment, but they also play an essential role in the field of biomedical research and experiments to understand health and disease. By harnessing the properties of specific bacterial strains, laboratories can grow bacterial cultures to exploit their power, identify harmful or disease-causing variants and advance our knowledge and capabilities.
Identifying bacteria at the strain level is becoming even more crucial in modern microbiology as bacterial strains pose more significant risks to human health due to increased virulence and transmissibility, resistance to multiple antibiotics, expanding host spectra, and the potential for genetic modification for bioterrorism.
In this article, we consider the importance of bacterial strains in lab research and experimentation, and we present to you some factors which you must consider when selecting the right one for your lab applications. Helvetica Health Care (HHC) is the world leading supplier of genetic variants or strains of viruses and bacteria. New strains continue to expand our collection, and new products are provided in various formats designed to meet your research and product development needs.
Why is strain typing of identification important for labs?
Bacterial strain identification, or typing at the strain level, is essential for the diagnosis, treatment, and epidemiological surveillance of bacterial infections. This is particularly true of bacteria engaged in nosocomial or pandemic diseases and those with high levels of antibiotic resistance or pathogenicity. Strain typing also has uses in studying the dynamics of the bacterial population.
What are the uses and applications of bacterial strains?
Growing bacterial strains in the lab is beneficial on many counts. For bioengineers, certain specific bacterial strains prove excellent vectors to produce compounds such as recombinant proteins. Recombinant proteins have demonstrated remarkable effectiveness in various lab procedures, including western blot, ELISA, and immunohistochemistry (IHC). Some strains are model organisms that can be used to research basic cellular processes. Some have specialised uses, like controls for experiment validation, so lab scientists grow bacterial culture (bacterial cell proliferation in or on a culture medium under well-regulated laboratory conditions).
Selecting the right bacterial strain.
Whether performing a transformation application, cloning applications or producing a panel for a project, choosing the suitable bacterial strains for your experiment is vital. Since bacterial species exhibit different levels of diversity, selecting an exceptional strain could undermine your experiment. When selecting the bacterial strain, it is necessary first to consider what you require or what you expect to achieve with it.
The following factors might help you pick the right one:
The phenotype of the strain:
Bacterial phenotypes are assessed by the morphology or the observable characteristics of clusters on various culture mediums, biochemical assays, serology, killer toxin susceptibility, pathogenicity, and antibiotic susceptibility. A bacterium’s growth characteristics determine whether and how quickly it will grow. Biochemists can define and therefore differentiate cells using growth phenotypes. However, bacteria frequently exhibit significant levels of phenotypic variability, or cells within isogenic populations with varying expression patterns, even in the laboratory. Phenotypic variability is temporal and occurs when bacteria are grown under certain environmental conditions.
Growth phenotypes also need to be considered when selecting strains for cloning applications. It is imperative to consider how a strain’s growth rate may impact the process if you need to harvest or process your cells while they are still in the exponential growth phase.
Genotype of the strain:
When selecting a strain for a transformation experiment, a genotype notation linked with a strain helps ascertain whether the strain is suitable for utilisation. Genotypic bacterial variants occur due to gene mutations, acquisition, or the loss of new genetic elements at a cellular level. Genotyping bacterial strains are the new age molecular technology in identifying and subtyping microorganisms on a genetic basis. The majority of phenotypic variation in bacteria, including geographical distribution, host specificity, pathogenicity, antibiotic resistance, and virulence, can ultimately be explained by genetic diversity.
Source or date of isolation:
Bacterial strains also vary due to the source of the strain. For instance, when trying to ascertain the resistance profile to antibiotics or the optimal conditions for growth, “wild-type” strains of the same species isolated from a clinical sample and the environment could be very different.
Biosafety classification of the strain:
Working with bacterial strains also presents many hazards, and the risks may vary between bacterial strains. For instance, certain deadly strains, such as E. coli O157:H7, require additional and more secure biosafety controls.
If bacterial strain selection is only restricted to the choice of a particular species, a well-characterised type strain will suffice. Usually, type strains are among the most thoroughly researched. Type strains have every phenotypic or genotypic characteristic utilised in the taxonomic description of a species. However, labs must exercise caution as type strains are sometimes only the best representations of a species.
Many strains are suggested by the manufacturer or regulatory guidelines as “quality control” or “reference” strains if you intend to use your strains as controls for a specific technique or product (e.g., testing for antimicrobial susceptibility or validating a particular instrument). The strain used to describe a species is known as a type strain or culture.
For effective strain selection, lab personnel should be trained to know, understand, and keep track of strain and culture collection catalogue IDs. of new species, subspecies, or genetic variants found at culture collections that work as central repositories of strain material.
Choose a trusted supplier to avoid quality concerns when picking the needed strains. At HHC, we have a wide range of INACTIVATED and LIVE ORGANISMS available in several formats, including CELL EXTRACT, PURIFIED VIRUSES, CELL CULTURES, INACTIVATED CULTURE FLUIDS and DIRECT PELLETED VIRUSES. Our VIRAL LYSATES products are purified by sucrose gradient centrifugation before inactivation, and our collection of bacterial strains is available as PURIFIED DNA (or NATtrol). Most bacteria are clinical isolates, and the identity of the stock culture is confirmed by 16S ribosomal gene sequencing.
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