Summary: Cultures of 16 coryneform bacteria were grown to late-exponential stage in nutrient media, washed, and starved in 30 mm-potassium phosphate buffer pH 7.0, with no external energy or carbon source. After 4 weeks starvation, 20 to 98% of each culture was still viable; after 8 weeks, 5 to 70% of each culture was still viable. Little change in cell shape or size was detected in and when studied by electron microscopy for up to 56 d, although there was a gradual disappearance of intracellular material. No resting structures were discernible. All organisms showed an immediate decrease in endogenous respiration to less than 1% of that observed during growth. A low basal level of endogenous metabolism equivalent to 0.01 to 0.03% of cellular carbon oxidized to CO h was maintained for 56 d. Carbohydrate, intracellular pools, protein, ribonucleic acid and deoxyribonucleic acid were utilized at varying rates by different organisms during this period. All species were effective in maintaining 20 to 70% of their Mg content during a 28 d starvation period in the absence of any external Mg. It would appear that the soil coryneform bacteria possess similar survival characteristics in laboratory studies which could explain, in part, their ecological success in natural environments.


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