Fluorometric Quantification of Polyphosphate in Environmental Plankton Samples: Extraction Protocols, Matrix Effects, and Nucleic Acid Interference

TitleFluorometric Quantification of Polyphosphate in Environmental Plankton Samples: Extraction Protocols, Matrix Effects, and Nucleic Acid Interference
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsMartin P, Van Mooy BAS
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Volume79
Pagination273-281
Abstract

Polyphosphate (polyP) is a ubiquitous biochemical with many cellular functions and comprises an important environmental phosphorus pool. However, methodological challenges have hampered routine quantification of polyP in environmental samples. We tested 15 protocols to extract inorganic polyphosphate from natural marine samples and cultured cyanobacteria for fluorometric quantification with 4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI) without prior purification. A combination of brief boiling and digestion with proteinase K was superior to all other protocols, including other enzymatic digestions and neutral or alkaline leaches. However, three successive extractions were required to extract all polyP. Standard addition revealed matrix effects that differed between sample types, causing polyP to be over- or underestimated by up to 50% in the samples tested here. Although previous studies judged that the presence of DNA would not complicate fluorometric quantification of polyP with DAPI, we show that RNA can cause significant interference at the wavelengths used to measure polyP. Importantly, treating samples with DNase and RNase before proteinase K digestion reduced fluorescence by up to 57%. We measured particulate polyP along a North Pacific coastal-to-open ocean transect and show that particulate polyP concentrations increased toward the open ocean. While our final method is optimized for marine particulate matter, different environmental sample types may need to be assessed for matrix effects, extraction efficiency, and nucleic acid interference.