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FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 1999 Dec 1;30(4):327-332.

Humic and fulvic acids stimulate the growth of Mycobacterium avium.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA, USA


Mycobacterium avium, an environmental, opportunistic pathogenic mycobacterium, has been isolated frequently and in high numbers from waters in Finland and from acid, brown water swamps of the southeastern coastal USA. M. avium has also been recovered in high numbers from Finnish drinking water and frequently isolated from Finnish AIDS patients. Boreal forests and brown water swamps are similar in that they are rich in humic and fulvic acids and of low pH and dissolved oxygen. Growth of representative isolates of M. avium in natural water was stimulated markedly by the addition of humic and fulvic acids. Further, the M. avium isolates grew at pH levels as low at 4.0 and at oxygen levels equal to 4% of atmospheric levels. The high numbers of M. avium in boreal waters and brown water swamps are likely due to their ability to proliferate in those humic- and fulvic-rich, acidic, micro-aerobic environments.

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