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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1995 Jul;61(7):2624-30.

Entry into, and resuscitation from, the viable but nonculturable state by Vibrio vulnificus in an estuarine environment.

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


Using plate counts, total cell counts, and direct viable counts, we examined the fate of cells of Vibrio vulnificus placed into natural estuarine waters during both winter and summer months. Cells inoculated into membrane diffusion chambers and placed into estuarine waters entered into a viable but nonculturable (VBNC) state in January and February, when the water temperatures were low (average, < 15 degrees C). In contrast, when cells in the VBNC state were placed into the same waters in the warmer months of August through November (average water temperature of ca. 21 degrees C), the cells appeared to undergo a rapid (typically, within 24 h) resuscitation to the fully culturable state. These results were independent of whether the cells were in the logarithmic or stationary phase and whether they were encapsulated or not. This study indicates that the inability to isolate V. vulnificus from cold estuarine sites may be accounted for by entrance of the cells into a VBNC state and that recovery from this state in natural environments may result from a temperature upshift.

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