Editor: David Gutnick
Recent findings on the viable but nonculturable state in pathogenic bacteria
Article first published online: 24 NOV 2009
© 2009 Federation of European Microbiological Societies. Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved
FEMS Microbiology Reviews
Volume 34, Issue 4, pages 415–425, July 2010
How to Cite
Oliver, J. D. (2010), Recent findings on the viable but nonculturable state in pathogenic bacteria. FEMS Microbiology Reviews, 34: 415–425. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6976.2009.00200.x
- Issue published online: 2 JUN 2010
- Article first published online: 24 NOV 2009
- Received 16 November 2009; accepted 19 November 2009.Final version published online 31 December 2009.
- gene expression;
Many bacteria, including a variety of important human pathogens, are known to respond to various environmental stresses by entry into a novel physiological state, where the cells remain viable, but are no longer culturable on standard laboratory media. On resuscitation from this ‘viable but nonculturable’ (VBNC) state, the cells regain culturability and the renewed ability to cause infection. It is likely that the VBNC state is a survival strategy, although several interesting alternative explanations have been suggested. This review describes the VBNC state, the various chemical and physical factors known to induce cells into this state, the cellular traits and gene expression exhibited by VBNC cells, their antibiotic resistance, retention of virulence and ability to attach and persist in the environment, and factors that have been found to allow resuscitation of VBNC cells. Along with simple reversal of the inducing stresses, a variety of interesting chemical and biological factors have been shown to allow resuscitation, including extracellular resuscitation-promoting proteins, a novel quorum-sensing system (AI-3) and interactions with amoeba. Finally, the central role of catalase in the VBNC response of some bacteria, including its genetic regulation, is described.