Cholera continues to be a major public health threat, particularly in countries where safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene are suboptimal. Toxigenic Vibrio cholerae, responsible for epidemic cholera, has two life styles, including (i) a transient and accidental occurrencein human intestine where it causes profuse diarrhea, and (ii) a ubiquitous occurrence in aquatic environments, including fresh, estuarine and marine waters. Although human acquire the disease by consumption of water contaminated with the bacterium, the genetic and physiologic basis of persistence of V. cholerae in the aquatic reservoirs, even during an ongoing cholera epidemic, is largely unknown. In response to stress such as in antibiotic stress, pathogenic bacteria are known to develop a “persister” phenotype which evades the stressful condition by stochastic mechanism.

Using filter sterilized microcosm model, we recently demonstrated that, in response to nutrient stress, V. cholerae can select a subpopulation of bacterium, that, we termed as novel “persister” phenotype. The novel persister V. cholerae exhibited unprecedented bipolar and peritrichous flagella, diverse morphological cellular types, increased quorum sensing molecules, particularly CAI-1 molecule, and response to some nutrients while remained nonresponsive to others. We are currently examined other characteristics associated uniquely to persister V. cholerae and will be discussed in the proposed meeting.

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