Transport of viable but non-culturable Escherichia coli O157:H7 in soil and groundwater

  • Author / Creator
    Kartz, Cory
  • The influence of the viable but non-culturable (VBNC) state on specific phenotypic traits of Escherichia coli O157:H7 as well as its transport behaviour in porous media was examined in this study. E.coli O157:H7 is a human pathogen capable of entering a VBNC state following exposure to sublethal stress. In the VBNC state, E.coli O157:H7 is not detectable by culture assays; yet, is able to retain its ability to cause human illness. This study examined specific transport-related properties of culturable and VBNC E.coli O157:H7 cells. As well, transport behaviors of the two cellular states were compared using sand-packed columns under steady-state flow. When E.coli O157:H7 cells entered a VBNC state, significant decreases in the hydrophobicity and lengths/widths of the cells, and a significant increase in extracellular polymeric substances on the cell surfaces were measured. Transport experiments indicated significantly (p<0.05) greater mass transport of VBNC cells through unwashed sand compared to culturable cells. This research contributes to the current knowledge describing VBNC E.coli O157:H7 cells, raises questions concerning the accuracy of culture-based E.coli O157:H7 identification protocols, and suggests that bacteria transport in the subsurface is a truly dynamic process.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2011
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.