Accession Number:

ADA539508

Title:

Entry of Yersinia Pestis into the Viable but Nonculturable State in a Low-Temperature Tap Water Microcosm

Descriptive Note:

Journal article

Corporate Author:

ARMY MEDICAL RESEARCH INST OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES FORT DETRICK MD

Report Date:

2011-03-16

Pagination or Media Count:

11.0

Abstract:

Yersinia pestis, the causative agent of plague, has caused several pandemics throughout history and remains endemic in the rodent populations of the western United States. More recently, Y. pestis is one of several bacterial pathogens considered to be a potential agent of bioterrorism. Thus, elucidating potential mechanisms of survival and persistence in the environment would be important in the event of an intentional release of the organism. One such mechanism is entry into the viable but non-culturable VBNC state, as has been demonstrated for several other bacterial pathogens. In this study, we showed that Y. pestis became nonculturable by normal laboratory methods after 21 days in a low-temperature tap water microcosm. We further show evidence that, after the loss of culturability, the cells remained viable by using a variety of criteria, including cellular membrane integrity, uptake and incorporation of radio-labeled amino acids, and protection of genomic DNA from DNase I digestion. Additionally, we identified morphological and ultrastructural characteristics of Y. pestis VBNC cells, such as cell rounding and large periplasmic spaces, by electron microscopy, which are consistent with entry into the VBNC state in other bacteria. Finally, we demonstrated resuscitation of a small number of the non-culturable cells. This study provides compelling evidence that Y. pestis persists in a low-temperature tap water microcosm in a viable state yet is unable to be cultured under normal laboratory conditions, which may prove useful in risk assessment and remediation efforts, particularly in the event of an intentional release of this organism.

Subject Categories:

  • Microbiology

Distribution Statement:

APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE