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Survival of Xenorhabdus nematophilus and Photorhabdus luminescens in water and soil

Morgan, J.A.W., Kuntzelmann, V., Tavernor, S., Ousley, M.A., Winstanley, C.
Journal of applied microbiology 1997 v.83 no.6 pp. 665-670
Photorhabdus luminescens, Xenorhabdus nematophila, biological control, genes, kanamycin, microorganisms, population dynamics, river water, soil
Strains of Xenorhabdus nematophilus and Photorhabdus luminescens were genetically marked with kanamycin resistance and the xylE gene to aid their detection in water and soil. Following release in river water, cells declined to undetectable levels in 6 d. In sterile river water, this decline was enhanced with cells detectable for only 2 d. In sterile Milli-Q purified water, the decline was slower than in either sterile or non-sterile river water. Survival in soil was also restricted with cells only detectable for 7 d. These experiments indicated that both X. nematophilus and P. luminescens have limited survival or competitive abilities in these environments. The faster decline of populations in sterile river water was unexpected, and the possible formation of specialized survival stages was investigated. In sterile water, a non-culturable but viable population of cells was detected, indicating that cells may survive longer than anticipated in the environment and remain undetectable using standard microbiological methods. The implications of this work to the use of these strains in biological control and the release of genetically-modified micro-organisms is discussed.