Spore-forming bacteria accumulate dipicolinic acid (DPA) to form spores to survive in extreme environments. Vibrational spectroscopy is widely used to detect DPA and elucidate the existence of the bacteria, while vegetative cells, another form of spore-forming bacteria, have not been studied extensively. Herein, we applied coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering (CARS) microscopy to spectroscopically identify both spores and vegetative cells without staining or molecular tagging. The spores were identified by the strong CARS signals due to DPA. Furthermore, we observed bright spots in the vegetative cells in the CARS image at 1735 cm-1. The vegetative cells contained molecular species with C=O bonds because this vibrational mode was associated with the carbonyl group. One of the candidate molecular species is diketopimelic acid (DKP), a DPA precursor. This hypothesis was verified by comparing the spectrum obtained by the vegetative cells with that of the DKP analogue (ketopimelic acid) and with the result obtained by DFT calculation. The results indicate that the observed vegetative cell is in the sporulation process. CARS spectra can be used to monitor the maturation and preformation of spores.
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