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J Appl Bacteriol. 1991 Jan;70(1):59-65.

Habituation to acid in Escherichia coli: conditions for habituation and its effects on plasmid transfer.

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Department of Biology, University College London, UK.


Induction of acid resistance (habituation) in Escherichia coli at pH 5.0 took ca 5 min in broth at 37 degrees C and 30-60 min in minimal medium. Induction occurred at a range of pH values from 4.0 to 6.0; it was dependent on continuing protein and RNA synthesis but substantial acid resistance appeared in the presence of nalidixic acid. Acid resistance was long-lasting; organisms grown at pH 5.0 retained most of their resistance after 2 h growth at pH 7.0. Organisms grown at pH 5.0 showed increased synthesis of a number of cytoplasmic proteins compared with the level in cells grown at pH 7.0. DNA repair-deficient strains carrying recA, uvrA or polA1 mutations were more acid-sensitive than the repair-proficient parents but were able to habituate at pH 5.0. Organisms grown at pH 5.0 transferred the ColV plasmid much more effectively at acid pH than did those grown at pH 7.0 and habituated recipients appeared better able to repair incoming acid-damaged plasmid DNA than did those that were non-habituated. Induction of acid resistance at pH 5.0 may be significant for the survival of organisms exposed to periodic discharges of acid effluent in the aquatic environment and habituation may also allow plasmid transfer and repair of acid-damaged plasmid DNA during or after such exposure.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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