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Microbiology. 2007 Nov;153(Pt 11):3623-30.

Senescence can explain microbial persistence.

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Department of Mathematical Sciences, Center for Biofilm Engineering, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717, USA.


It has been known for many years that small fractions of persister cells resist killing in many bacterial colony-antimicrobial confrontations. These persisters are not believed to be mutants. Rather it has been hypothesized that they are phenotypic variants. Current models allow cells to switch in and out of the persister phenotype. Here, a different explanation is suggested for persistence, namely senescence. Using a mathematical model including age structure, it is shown that senescence provides a natural explanation for persistence-related phenomena, including the observations that the persister fraction depends on growth phase in batch culture and dilution rate in continuous culture.

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