• Raman microspectroscopy;
  • label-free imaging;
  • biofilms;
  • leucine


In structured communities of bacteria known as biofilms, a variety of biomolecules have been shown to play a unique role as signals and/or regulators in biofilm formation. Here, we report that high levels of the amino acid leucine (leucine pool) were detected, for the first time, within microcolonies in a 30-h-old Escherichia coli biofilm by Raman imaging. Localization of leucine revealed by multifrequency Raman images indicates leucine accumulation during the early stage of the E. coli biofilm formation, which may have resulted from physiological environment-specific metabolic adaptation. We demonstrate that our label-free Raman imaging method provides a useful platform for directly identifying still unknown natural products produced in biofilms as well as for visualizing heterogeneous distributions of biofilm constituents in situ. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.