Can you pick up a bacterium?

Chris=Michiels%LMM%AGR at Chris=Michiels%LMM%AGR at
Sun Oct 16 13:19:14 EST 1994

Answer to Message-ID: <37q2bb$59t at>:

>Can you pick up a bacterium.  I am wondering if any of the technology in
>medicine or biology could be used to separate out a rod from a mixture of
>cocci and sperm.  Can't be done by culture.  E-mail: BCapstone at

Yes, it can be done! In Microb. Ecol. (1993) 25:113-119, Mitchell et al. describe
a laser toy called an optical trap. Under a microscope, a single bacterium is trapped
in a non-destructive long-wave (1064 nm) laser beam. By moving the beam or the
microscope stage, the bacterium can be separated from others and from other
particles.  Read the article for more explanation on the physical principle behind this. 
Wonderful technique!

Chris Michiels
Lab Food Microbiol.
K. U. Leuven, Belgium

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