Azevedo, N.F., Pacheco, A.P., Keevil, C.W. and Vieira, M.J.
Adhesion of water stressed Helicobacter pylori to abiotic surfaces
Journal of Applied Microbiology, 101, (3), . (doi:10.1111/j.1365-2672.2006.03029.x).
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The main aim of this work was to study and compare the adhesion of water exposed Helicobacter pylori to six different substrata and correlate any changes in morphology, physiology, ability to form aggregates and cultivability when in the planktonic or in the sessile phase. Methods and Results:?
The number of total cells adhered for different water exposure times and modifications in the cell shape were evaluated using epifluorescence and scanning electron microscopy, and physiology assessed using Syto9 and propidium iodide (PI) cellular uptake. All abiotic surfaces were rapidly colonized by H. pylori, and colonization appeared to reach a steady state after 96?h with levels ranging from 2·3?×?106 to 3·6?×?106?total cells?cm?2. Cell morphology was largely dependent on the support material, with spiral bacteria, associated with the infectious form of H. pylori, subsisting in a higher percentage on nonpolymeric substrata. Also, sessile bacteria were generally able to retain the spiral shape for longer when compared with planktonic bacteria, which became coccoid more quickly. The formation of large aggregates, which may act as a protection mechanism against the negative impact of the stressful external environmental conditions, was mostly observed on the surface of copper coupons. However, Syto9 and PI staining indicates that most of H. pylori attached to copper or SS304 have a compromised cell membrane after only 48?h. Cultivability methods were only able to detect the bacteria up to the 2?h exposure-time and at very low levels (up to 500?CFU?cm?2). Conclusions:?
The fact that the pathogen is able to adhere, retain the spiral morphology for longer and form large aggregates when attached to different plumbing materials appeared to point to pipe materials in general, and copper plumbing in particular, as a possible reservoir of virulent H. pylori in water distribution systems. However, the Syto9/PI staining results and cultivability methods indicate that the attached H. pylori cells quickly enter in a nonviable physiological state. Significance and Impact of the Study:?
This represents the first study of H. pylori behaviour in water-exposed abiotic surfaces. It suggests that co-aggregation with the autochthonous heterotrophic consortia present in water is necessary for a longer survival of the pathogen in biofilms associated to drinking water systems.
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