Rapid differentiation of Campylobacter jejuni cell wall mutants using Raman spectroscopy, SERS and mass spectrometry combined with chemometrics†
The Gram-negative bacterial pathogen Campylobacter jejuni is a major cause of foodborne gastroenteritis worldwide. Rapid detection and identification of C. jejuni informs timely prescription of appropriate therapeutics and epidemiological investigations. Here, for the first time, we report the applicability of Raman spectroscopy, surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) and matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF-MS) combined with chemometrics, for rapid differentiation and characterisation of mutants of a single isogenic C. jejuni strain that disrupt the production of prominent surface features (capsule, flagella and glycoproteins) of the bacterium. Multivariate analysis of the spectral data obtained from these different physicochemical tools revealed distinctive biochemical differences which consistently discriminated between these mutants. In order to generate biochemical and phenotypic information from different locations in the cell–cell wall versus cytoplasm – we developed two different in situ methods for silver nanoparticle (AgNP) production, and compared this with simple mixing of bacteria with pre-synthesised AgNPs. This SERS trilogy (simple mixing with premade AgNPs and two in situ AgNP production methods) presents an integrated platform with potential for rapid, accurate and confirmatory detection of pathogenic bacteria based on cell envelope or intracellular molecular dynamics. Our spectral findings demonstrate that Raman, SERS and MALDI-TOF-MS are powerful metabolic fingerprinting techniques capable of discriminating clinically relevant cell wall mutants of a single isogenic bacterial strain.