The population of a strain ofEscherichia coli that was resistant to nalidixic acid and streptomycin declined rapidly in samples of sterile and nonsterile Cayuga Lake water and reached an undetectable level in nonsterile water at 24 and 72 hours when counted on eosin-methylene blue (EMB) agar and half-strength trypticase soy agar (TSA), respectively. In sterile lake water amended with 10μg amino acids per ml or 0.1 M phosphate,E. coli multiplied exponentially for more than 24 hours. The addition ofRhizobium leguminosarum biovarphaseoli to unamended sterile lake water prevented the decline ofE. coli, and its addition to amended sterile lake water preventedE. coli multiplication. The cell density of this strain ofE. coli declined in the first 8 hours after its introduction into an inorganic salts solution, but the bacterium then grew extensively. This increase in abundance was not observed in the presence ofR. phaseoli, andE. coli counts on half-strength TSA remained unchanged between 8 hours and 6 days. When counted on EMB agar, the abundance of the antibiotic-resistant strain ofE. coli and a strain not selected for resistance increased in solutions containing phosphate and amino acids but declined in the presence of high densities ofR. phaseoli. Many of the cells of the antibiotic-resistantE. coli strain failed to grow on antibiotic-amended EMB agar after introduction of the organism into nonsterile or sterile lake water or into an inorganic salts solution containingR. phaseoli, although colonies appeared on TSA. The data suggest thatE. coli cells grown on rich media suffer a shock when introduced into lake water because of low hypotonicity, the indigenous competing flora, or both. This shock is prevented by either phosphate buffer or by amino acids at low concentration. The shocked bacteria formed colonies on half-strength TSA. Depending on environmental conditions, the presence of a second organism either has no effect or results in an increase or decrease inE. coli numbers.
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