Skip to main content
ARS Home » Plains Area » College Station, Texas » Southern Plains Agricultural Research Center » Food and Feed Safety Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #155997


item Ziprin, Richard
item Harvey, Roger

Submitted to: Avian Diseases
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/20/2004
Publication Date: 9/1/2004
Citation: Ziprin, R.L., Harvey, R.B. 2004. Inability of cecal microflora to promote reversion of viable nonculturable Campylobacter jejuni. Avian Diseases. 48:647-650.

Interpretive Summary: Food poisoning is sometimes caused by an organism named Campylobacter jejuni. It is commonly present on chickens. We do not understand how this microbe survives in the environment or how it moves from the environment into chickens. One theory holds that chickens become contaminated with Campylobacter present in the water chickens drink. But, when these bacteria are suspended in water, they become an unusual cell-type called, 'viable but nonculturable.' This means the cells are alive but cannot be grown in the laboratory. We examined conditions under which these 'viable but nonculturable' cells might change back to the ordinary cell type. This work is important to understanding how chickens become contaminated by Campylobacter.

Technical Abstract: Campylobacter jejuni cells are able to enter a viable but nonculturable (VBNC) state when they are suspended in water. They share this trait with several other genera of bacteria including Vibrio cholerae. Prior experiments by others have demonstrated that VBNC Vibrio cholerae cells are capable of colonizing the human intestinal tract and inducing the disease. In the present experiment we inoculated day-of-hatch leghorn chicks with normal gut microflora and subsequently challenged these with high doses of viable VBNC Campylobacter jejuni. The objective was to determine if the pre-establishment of a normal gut flora would enable VBNC Campylobacter to recover, revert to the vibrionic form, and colonize the cecum. Day-of-hatch leghorn chicks were gavaged through the esophagus with 0.75ml of a continuous flow culture of normal cecal organisms. Two days after gavage the same chicks were gavaged with 0.75 ml (greater than 10**9 CFU) of a VBNC suspension of Campylobacter jejuni. These VBNC cells had been suspended in reverse osmosis water for 8 days before they were used. Seven days later, cecal contents were collected, serially diluted and examined for the presence of viable culturable Campylobacter jejuni. Our results demonstrated that the VBNC Campylobacter jejuni cells were unable to revert to a vibrionic culturable form capable of colonizing the cecum.