SUMMARY: Potassium and phosphate were found to be the most suitable of the common ions for investigations into a possible correlation between ion movements and survival in populations recovered from aerosols of strain B. Except at high relative humidities and short holding times, populations of [K]-labelled lost practically all the radioisotope within a very short time after recovery from bacterial clouds. Very little [K] was removed from labelled bacteria by agitation in water or buffer solutions under conditions which simulated some of the stresses arising from the generation and collection of aerosols. Loss of potassium appeared to be a sequel of aerosolization, but was not in itself immediately lethal to the organisms. However, the results indicated that organisms which had been recovered from aerosols could not be regarded as unchanged rehydrated forms of the original bacteria. The pattern of phosphate efflux from [P]-labelled organisms was quite different from the corresponding loss of potassium. A great deal of phosphate loss was due merely to the violent ‘washing’ procedures involved in the generation and collection of aerosols. Damage to ion-retention mechanisms may contribute to the decreased viability of organisms recovered from bacterial aerosols.


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