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Journal of applied microbiology

Viability of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in natural river water determined by the use of flow cytometry.


PMID 10735990

Abstract

The enzymatic activity and viability of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in natural river water was determined by flow cytometry. River water was collected at two sites (an agricultural area and an industrial area) on the Aigawa River (Osaka, Japan). To facilitate estimation of the physiology of E. coli O157 in natural river water, bacterial cells in the water were stained with 6-carboxyfluorescein diacetate (6CFDA) and propidium iodide (PI). The cells were sorted into two populations, using a flow cytometer, based on their esterase activity. Each population was stained with E. coli O157:H7 fluorescent antibody (FA), and E. coli O157:H7 cells were observed in the esterase-active population. River water samples collected at the same points were incubated with yeast extract containing antibiotics to prevent cell division, and bacterial cells in the incubated samples were stained with PI and FA. Escherichia coli O157:H7 existed in both the viable (elongated and/or fattened) and inactive bacterial population determined by flow cytometry. These results indicate that E. coli O157:H7 may retain metabolic activity and growth potential in the natural aquatic environment.

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