A flow injection flow cytometry system for on-line monitoring of bioreactors

Rui Zhao, Arvind Natarajan, Friedrich Srienc

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


For direct and on-line study of the physiological states of cell cultures, a robust flow injection system has been designed and interfaced with flow cytometry (FI-FCM). The core of the flow injection system includes a microchamber designed for sample processing. The design of this microchamber allows not only an accurate on-line dilution but also on-line cell fixation, staining, and washing. The flow injection part of the system was tested by monitoring the optical density of a growing E.coli culture on- line using a spectrophotometer. The entire growth curve, from lag phase to stationary phase, was obtained with frequent sampling. The performance of the entire FI-FCM system is demonstrated in three applications. The first is the monitoring of green fluorescent protein fluorophore formation kinetics in E.coli by visualizing the fluorescence evolution after protein synthesis is inhibited. The data revealed a subpopulation of cells that do not become fluorescent. In addition, the data show that single-cell fluorescence is distributed over a wide range and that the fluorescent population contains cells that are capable of reaching significantly higher expression levels than that indicated by the population average. The second application is the detailed flow cytometric evaluation of the batch growth dynamics of E. coli expressing Gfp. The collected single-cell data visualize the batch growth phases and it is shown that a state of balanced growth is never reached by the culture. The third application is the determination of distribution of DNA content of a S. cerevisiae population by automatically staining cells using a DNA-specific stain. Reproducibility of the on-line staining reaction shows that the system is not restricted to measuring the native properties of cells; rather, a wider range of cellular components could be monitored after appropriate sample processing. The system is thus particularly useful because it operates automatically without direct operator supervision for extended time periods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)609-617
Number of pages9
JournalBiotechnology and bioengineering
Issue number5
StatePublished - Feb 20 1999


  • Automatic staining
  • Binreactor monitoring
  • Flow injection flow cytometry
  • Online flow cytometry


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