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Mar Pollut Bull. 2010 Dec;60(12):2209-14. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2010.08.017. Epub 2010 Sep 15.

Inactivation of the gene katA or sodA affects the transient entry into the viable but non-culturable response of Staphylococcus aureus in natural seawater at low temperature.

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Laboratoire de Microbiologie, Faculté des Sciences de Sfax, B.P. 1171, 3000 Sfax, Tunisia.


We have investigated the fate of Staphylococcus aureus by starving the cells and maintaining them in natural seawater at 22 and 4 °C. At 22 °C, cells developed a long-term survival state where about 0.037% of the initial population remained culturable over more than 7 months, whereas at 4 °C, bacteria lost culturability and transiently entered into the viable but non-culturable state (VBNC). However, after 22 days of entry into the VBNC state, the number of viable cells detected via the direct viable count method decreased significantly. We show here that mutational inactivation of catalase (KatA) or superoxide dismutase (SodA) rendered strains hypersensitive to seawater stress at 4 °C and consequently, part of the seawater lethality on S. aureus at low temperature is mediated by reactive oxygen species (ROS) during microcosm-survival process. Shifting the temperature from 4 to 22 °C of totally non-culturable wild-type cells induced a partial recovery of the population. However, deficiencies in catalase or superoxide dismutase prevent resuscitation ability.

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