Extended survival and persistence of Campylobacter spp. water and aquatic biofilms and their detection by immunofluorescent-antibody and -rRNA staining

Clive M. Buswell*, Yvonne M. Herlihy, Lorna M. Lawrence, James T.M. McGuiggan, Phillip Marsh, C. William Keevil, Steve A. Leach

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    260 Citations (Scopus)


    In water microcosm experiments, the survival times of Campylobacter isolates differed by up to twofold, as determined by culturing; this difference increased to fourfold when particular combinations of temperature and oxygenation were used. The mean survival times were much longer at 4 and 10°C (202 and 176 h, respectively) than at 22 and 37°C (43 and 22 h, respectively). The influence of anaerobiosis on survival time was less dramatic and differed considerably between isolates. In a two-stage water distribution model preparation containing a biofilm consisting of standardized autochthonous water microflora, Campylobacter isolates continued to differ in survival time. However, the survival times of cultures were considerably longer in the presence of the autochthonous water microflora (strains CH1 and 9752 survived 700 and 360 h, respectively, at 4°C) than in the sterile microcosms (strains CH1 and 9752 survived 230 and 157 h, respectively). Although increased temperature and oxygenation were generally detrimental to culturability, the interaction of these two factors influenced the two strains examined differently. When the organisms were grown aerobically at 30°C, the survival of the two strains was reversed; aerobiosis decreased the survival time of strain CH1 by 30%, but unexpectedly improved the persistence time of strain 9752 by more than threefold. Persistence times within biofilms were much longer when they were determined by detection methods not involving culturing. Immunofluorescent-antibody staining demonstrated that the pathogen persisted up to the termination of the experiments after 28 and 42 days of incubation at 30 and 4°C, respectively. The specificity of detection within intact biofilms was reduced because of high background fluorescence. However, preliminary studies with a Campylobacter-specific rRNA probe revealed the same extended persistence of the pathogen within the biofilms.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)733-741
    Number of pages9
    JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 1998


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