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Resuscitation of viable but nonculturable Legionella pneumophila Philadelphia JR32 by Acanthamoeba castellanii.

By M Steinert, L Emödy, R Amann and J Hacker


Legionella pneumophila is an aquatic bacterium and is responsible for Legionnaires' disease in humans. Free-living amoebae are parasitized by legionellae and provide the intracellular environment required for the replication of this bacterium. In low-nutrient environments, however, L. pneumophila is able to enter a non-replicative viable but nonculturable (VBNC) state. In this study, L. pneumophila Philadelphia I JR 32 was suspended in sterilized tap water at 10(4) cells/ml. The decreasing number of bacteria was monitored by CFU measurements, acridine orange direct count (AODC), and hybridization with 16S rRNA-targeted oligonucleotide probes. After 125 days of incubation in water, the cells were no longer culturable on routine plating media; however, they were still detectable by AODC and by in situ hybridization. The addition of Acanthamoeba castellanii to the dormant bacteria resulted in the resuscitation of L. pneumophila JR 32 to a culturable state. A comparison of plate-grown legionellae and reactivated cells showed that the capacity for intracellular survival in human monocytes and intraperitoneally infected guinea pigs, which is considered a parameter for virulence, was not reduced in the reactivated cells. However, reactivation of dormant legionellae was not observed in the animal model

Topics: Research Article
Year: 1997
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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