• Food and Nutritional Sciences Flow Cytometry Services

  • Services:


    Bespoke project design and implementation to assess pharmaceuticals and dietary supplement activity including:

    * Probiotics

    * Antibiotics

    * Prebiotics

    * Proteins/fibres/carbohydrates


    A typical project may include In situ batch/continuous cultures and unique gut model systems maintained at an appropriate pH and containing a complex growth medium designed to simulate intestinal effluent, to reflect specialised intestinal environments. These models are inoculated with faecal slurry and allowed to stabilise prior to the addition of a test substrate.


    Parallel unsupplemented fermenters provide a baseline of background activity. After a set period, activity of the test substrate can be assessed in terms of its effect on major bacterial gut populations and functionally, on metabolite, ammonia, acid and gas production.  

  • We also offer:


    * FISHflow - Quantification of intestinal bacterial population dynamics using Fluorescent in situ Hybridisation (FISH) coupled with flow cytometry.


    * Standard assessment of mixed cell populations by flow cytometry including:

    o Quantification of different cell phenotypes - by cell surface markers, intracellular cytokine or transcription factor expression.

    o Apoptosis - eg. Quantification of JC-1 and Caspase-3 producing cell.

    o Cell activation - eg. Naïve/activated T Cells

    o Cell proliferation and differentiation in culture in response to intervention - such as drug therapy.


    * Live/dead cell counts


    Statistical analysis is provided along with support interpreting the data generated by our panel of experts based in the Food Microbial Sciences Unit based in the Dept. Food and Nutritional Sciences, at the University of Reading.


    For more information, please contact Dr. Marie Lewis,

  •  Flow cytometry is a technology which discriminates between particles, usually different types of cells, using multiple physical characteristics. The particles flow through a beam of light which is diverted slightly depending on the relative density, granularity and size of each particle. Alternatively, fluorescence labels can be attached to a specific cell type within a mixed population to permit identification.

    An optical-to-electronic coupling system then records how each particle (cell) scatters the laser light or emits fluorescence. This HighThroughput system quantifies several thousand particles/second.


    We have coupled flow cytometry with Fluorescent in situ Hybridisation (FISH) to permit rapid assessment of the important functional bacterial groups within an intestinal microbiota. Unlike sequencing, this technology measures cell numbers, as opposed to nucleic acid transcripts, and therefore is fully quantitative. We analyse the following major bacterial groups which have been implicated in host health and disease.

    All Eukaryotes

    Bifidobacterium genus

    Lactobacillus-Enterococcus group


    Clostridium coccoides group


    Atopobium cluster

    Clostridia cluster IX

    Faecalibacterium prausnitzii subgroup

    Desulphovibrionaceae & some Geobactaraceae

    Clostridium histolyticum group


    Such observational changes can be linked to functional/biological effects, for example, metabolite production. We measure specific metabolite production following intervention with the test substrate using High Pressure Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) and Gas Chromatography (GC). These include, but are not limited to,

    - Organic acids (acetate, butyrate, propionate, lactate, formate),

    - Branched chain fatty acids (valerate, iso-valerate, iso-butyrate)

    - Phenolic compounds (p-cresol, indole, phenol and skatole, amines, ammonia).


    We offer basic statistical analysis of the data generated using univariate linear regression and least-significant differences methodologies.

  • Panel of experts


    Prof. Glenn Gibson PhD, Professor of Food Microbiology (Head of Food Microbial Sciences)


    Dr. Marie Lewis PhD, Lecturer in Gut Immunology and Microbiology (Director of FNS Flow Cytometry Services)

    Dr. Gemma Walton PhD, Lecturer in Metagenomics.

    Dr. Carlos Proveda PhD, Manager - FNS Flow Cytometry services


    Contact details:

    Dr. Marie Lewis Ph.D,

    Food Microbial Sciences Unit
    Room 3.27, Dept. Food & Nutritional Science
    University of Reading
    RG6 6AP

    Tel: +44(0)1183 788708


    For Sat Nav, use RG6 6UR

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+44 (0)1183 788708



+44 (0)7487 661960


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