Optimal staining and sample storage time for direct microscopic enumeration of total and active bacteria in soil with two fluorescent dyes Academic Article uri icon


  • Direct counting techniques, first developed for aquatic samples, can be used to enumerate bacteria in soil and groundwater sediments. Two fluorescent dyes, 5-cyano-2,3-ditolyl tetrazolium chloride (CTC) for actively respiring bacteria and 4',6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI) for total bacteria, were tested for their usefulness in epifluorescent direct bacterial enumeration in soil. Both dyes can be used for the same soil sample without affecting enumeration results. Staining for 8 h with CTC and for 40 min with DAPI resulted in maximum numbers of stained cells. The optimal DAPI staining concentration is 10 mg liter-1. After preparation, slides should be stored at 4C and counted within 2 days for CTC and within 24 h for DAPI. Sodium PP(i) or sodium chloride solutions were used to desorb bacteria from soil prior to counting. Counts were significantly higher when sodium chloride was used.

published proceedings

  • Applied and Environmental Microbiology

author list (cited authors)

  • Yu, W., Dodds, W. K., Banks, M. K., Skalsky, J., & Strauss, E. A.

complete list of authors

  • Yu, W||Dodds, WK||Banks, MK||Skalsky, J||Strauss, EA

publication date

  • January 1995