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J Microbiol. 2004 Jun;42(2):74-9.

The viable but nonculturable state of Kanagawa positive and negative strains of Vibrio parahaemolyticus.

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Department of Biology, The University of North Carolina Charlotte, North Carolina 28223, USA.


Ingestion of shellfish-associated Vibrio parahaemolyticus is the primary cause of potentially severe gastroenteritis in many countries. However, only Kanagawa phenomenon (hemolysin) positive (KP+) strains of V. parahaemolyticus are isolated from patients, whereas >99% of strains isolated from the environment do not produce this hemolysin (i.e. are KP-). The reasons for these differences are not known. Following a temperature downshift, Vibrio parahaemolyticus enters the viable but nonculturable (VBNC) state wherein cells maintain viability but cannot be cultured on routine microbiological media We speculated that KP+ and KP- strains may respond differently to the temperature and salinity conditions of seawater by entering into this state which might account for the low numbers of culturable KP+ strains isolated from estuarine waters. The response of eleven KP+ and KP- strains of V. parahaemolyticus following exposure to a nutrient and temperature downshift in different salinities, similar to conditions encountered in their environment, was examined. The strains included those from which the KP+ genes had been selectively removed or added. Our results indicated that the ability to produce hemolysin did not affect entrance into the VBNC state. Further, VBNC cells of both biotypes could be restored to the culturable state following an overnight temperature upshift.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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