Persistence of Enterococcus faecalis in aquatic environments via surface interactions with copepods

Applied and Environmental Microbiology
C SignorettoP Canepari


Several human pathogens and fecal-pollution indicators may persist as viable organisms in natural environments, owing to their ability to activate different types of survival strategies. These strategies include adhesion on both abiotic and biotic surfaces and the entrance to the so-called viable but nonculturable (VBNC) state. In an 18-month survey for the detection of enterococci in both lake water and seawater, C. Signoretto et al. (Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 70:6892-6896, 2004) have shown that Enterococcus faecalis was detected mostly bound to plankton and in the VBNC state. In the present study, we show that in vitro adhesion of E. faecalis to copepods accelerated the entry of cells into the VBNC state relative to that of planktonic bacteria. VBNC E. faecalis cells maintained their adhesive properties to copepods and chitin (the main component of the copepod carapace), though to a reduced extent in comparison with growing cells. Sugar competition experiments showed interference with adhesion to both copepods and chitin by GlcNAc and only to copepods by D-mannose. Four enterococcal cell wall proteins present in both growing and VBNC cells and lipoteichoic acid were shown to be capable of binding chitin. The results indicate ...Continue Reading


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