Adoption of the transiently non-culturable state--a bacterial survival strategy?

Adv Microb Physiol. 2003:47:65-129. doi: 10.1016/s0065-2911(03)47002-1.


Microbial culturability can be ephemeral. Cells are not merely either dead or alive but can adopt physiological states in which they appear to be (transiently) non-culturable under conditions in which they are known normally to be able to grow and divide. The reacquisition of culturability from such states is referred to as resuscitation. We here develop the idea that this "transient non-culturability" is a consequence of a special survival strategy, and summarise the morphological, physiological and genetic evidence underpinning such behaviour and its adaptive significance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / growth & development*
  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena*
  • Ecosystem