Automated image analysis for quantification of filamentous bacteria

Marlene Fredborg, Flemming S. Rosenvinge, Erik Spillum, Stine Kroghsbo, Mikala Wang, Teis Esben Søndergaard

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15 Citations (Scopus)



Antibiotics of the β-lactam group are able to alter the shape of the bacterial cell wall, e.g. filamentation or a spheroplast formation. Early determination of antimicrobial susceptibility may be complicated by filamentation of bacteria as this can be falsely interpreted as growth in systems relying on colorimetry or turbidometry (such as Vitek-2, Phoenix, MicroScan WalkAway). The objective was to examine an automated image analysis algorithm for quantification of filamentous bacteria using the 3D digital microscopy imaging system, oCelloScope.

Three E. coli strains displaying different resistant profiles and differences in filamentation kinetics were used to study a novel image analysis algorithm to quantify length of bacteria and bacterial filamentation. A total of 12 β-lactam antibiotics or β-lactam–β-lactamase inhibitor combinations were analyzed for their ability to induce filamentation. Filamentation peaked at approximately 120 min with an average cell length of 30 μm.

The automated image analysis algorithm showed a clear ability to rapidly detect and quantify β-lactam-induced filamentation in E. coli. This rapid determination of β-lactam-mediated morphological alterations may facilitate future development of fast and accurate AST systems, which in turn will enable early targeted antimicrobial therapy. Therefore, rapid detection of β-lactam-mediated morphological changes may have important clinical implications.
Keywords: Morphology; Antibiotic-induced filamentation; Digital microscopy; Time-lapse imaging; Cell elongation; Escherichia coli
Original languageEnglish
JournalB M C Microbiology
Issue number255
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2015

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