Influence of nutrient status and grazing pressure on the fate of Francisella tularensis in lake water
2009 (English)In: FEMS Microbiology Ecology, ISSN 0168-6496, E-ISSN 1574-6941, Vol. 67, no 1, 69-80 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
The natural reservoir of Francisella tularensis, the causative agent of tularaemia, is yet to be identified. We investigated the possibility that Francisella persists in natural aquatic ecosystems between outbreaks. It was hypothesized that nutrientrich environments, with strong protozoan predation, favour the occurrence of the tularaemia bacterium. To investigate the differences in adaptation to aquatic environments of the species and subspecies of Francisella, we screened 23 strains for their ability to survive grazing by the ciliate Tetrahymena pyriformis. All the Francisella strains tested were consumed at a low rate, although significant differences between subspecies were found. The survival and virulence of gfp-labelled F. tularensis ssp. holarctica were then studied in a microcosm experiment using natural lake water, with varying food web complexities and nutrient availabilities. High nutrient conditions in combination with high abundances of nanoflagellates were found to favour F. tularensis ssp. holarctica. The bacterium was observed both free-living and within the cells of a nanoflagellate. Francisella tularensis entered a viable but nonculturable state during the microcosm experiment. When studied over a longer period of time, F. tularensis ssp. holarctica survived in the lake water, but loss of virulence was not prevented by either high nutrient availability or the presence of predators.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. Vol. 67, no 1, 69-80 p.
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-23274DOI: 10.1111/j.1574-6941.2008.00612.xOAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-23274DiVA: diva2:222543