• Enteric bacterium;
  • Seawater survival;
  • Stress response;
  • Viable but nonculturable;
  • Wastewater;
  • Escherichia coli


Enteric bacteria exposed to the marine environment simultaneously encounter a variety of abiotic and biotic challenges. Among the former, light appears to be critical in affecting seawater survival; previous growth history plays a major part in preadaptation of the cells, and stationary phase cells are generally more resistant than exponentially growing ones. Predation, mostly by protozoa, is probably the most significant biotic factor. Using Escherichia coli as a model, a surprisingly small number of genes was found that, when mutated, significantly affect seawater sensitivity of this bacterium. Most prominent among those is rpoS, which was also dominant among genes induced upon transfer to seawater.