Summary: The starvation-survival of in seawater was assessed by plate and epifluorescence counts, H-label decrease, cellular DNA concentrations, and metabolic activities. These assays were performed on two types of populations, adapted and non-adapted to seawater. The number of viable cells in the adapted population remained constant throughout starvation-survival in sterile seawater. In contrast, a significant decrease in the ability of the non-adapted to form colonies on plates following starvation-survival in sterile seawater was observed. However, this drop in viable counts was not mirrored by the epifluorescence counts and H-label, which did not show major changes for either population during the experiments, indicating maintenance of the number of cells. In addition, a significant increase in and subsequent maintenance of DNA content and thymidine incorporation was observed for both populations during starvation-survival in sterile seawater. The changes in cell-attached exoproteolytic activity and electron transport system activity showed that adapted and non-adapted cells maintain their metabolic potential. Cell-free exoproteolytic activity was drastically reduced in both populations. Adapted cells showed higher electron transport system activity and thymidine incorporation than non-adapted cells at the onset of starvation-survival. The effect of previous adaptation on starvation-survival, as assessed by plate counts and H-label decrease, w as also observed in raw seawater. It seems from these data that the biological potential of cells suspended in sterile seawater has not been switched off or impaired seriously.


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