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In Situ Microscopy for Real-time Determination of Single-cell Morphology in Bioprocesses, 2019

— Authors: Marbà-Ardébol, A. M., Emmerich, J., Muthig, M., Neubauer, P. & Junne, S. —

Journal of Visualized Experiments, 154, S. 1-9 (link)

In situ monitoring in microbial bioprocesses is mostly restricted to chemical and physical properties of the medium (e.g.,pH value and the dissolved oxygen concentration). Nevertheless, the morphology of cells can be a suitable indicator for optimal conditions, since it changes with dependence on the growth state, product accumulation and cell stress. Furthermore, the single-cell size distribution provides not only information about the cultivation conditions, but also about the population heterogeneity. To gain such information, a photo-optical in situ microscopy device1 was developed to enable the monitoring of the single-cell size distribution directly in the cell suspension in bioreactors. An automated image analysis is coupled to the microscopy based on a neural network model, which is trained with user-annotated images. Several parameters, which are gained from the captures of the microscope, are correlated to process relevant features of the cells, like their metabolic activity. Until now, the presented in situ microscopy probe series was applied to measure the pellet size in filamentous fungi suspensions. It was used to distinguish the single-cell size in microalgae cultivation and relate it to lipid accumulation. The shape of cellular particles was related to budding in yeast cultures. The microscopy analysis can be generally split into three steps: (i) image acquisition, (ii) particle identification, and (iii) data analysis, respectively. All steps have to be adapted to the organism, and therefore specific annotated information is required in order to achieve reliable results. The ability to monitor changes in cell morphology directly in line or on line (in a by-pass) enables real-time values for monitoring and control, in process development as well as in production scale. If the off line data correlates with the real-time data, the current tedious off line measurements with unknown influences on the cell size become needless.