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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2001 May;67(5):2248-54.

Survival of Campylobacter jejuni during stationary phase: evidence for the absence of a phenotypic stationary-phase response.

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School of Food Biosciences, University of Reading, Whiteknights, Reading RG6 6BZ, United Kingdom.


When Campylobacter jejuni NCTC 11351 was grown microaerobically in rich medium at 39 degrees C, entry into stationary phase was followed by a rapid decline in viable numbers to leave a residual population of 1% of the maximum number or less. Loss of viability was preceded by sublethal injury, which was seen as a loss of the ability to grow on media containing 0.1% sodium deoxycholate or 1% sodium chloride. Resistance of cells to mild heat stress (50 degrees C) or aeration was greatest in exponential phase and declined during early stationary phase. These results show that C. jejuni does not mount the normal phenotypic stationary-phase response which results in enhanced stress resistance. This conclusion is consistent with the absence of rpoS homologues in the recently reported genome sequence of this species and their probable absence from strain NCTC 11351. During prolonged incubation of C. jejuni NCTC 11351 in stationary phase, an unusual pattern of decreasing and increasing heat resistance was observed that coincided with fluctuations in the viable count. During stationary phase of Campylobacter coli UA585, nonmotile variants and those with impaired ability to form coccoid cells were isolated at high frequency. Taken together, these observations suggest that stationary-phase cultures of campylobacters are dynamic populations and that this may be a strategy to promote survival in at least some strains. Investigation of two spontaneously arising variants (NM3 and SC4) of C. coli UA585 showed that a reduced ability to form coccoid cells did not affect survival under nongrowth conditions.

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