SUMMARY: Previous studies with populations of strain B, recovered from aerosols, showed that, of the biochemical changes which were shown to precede death, the most dramatic was a rapid loss of ability to maintain cellular potassium concentrations. Loss of control over potassium may cause or contribute to death in bacteria recovered from aerosols and also probably implies a loss of control over other ions and substrates. Potassium ion efflux studies with this organism have been extended here to var. strain JEPP, strain H, strain 8 UK and strain NCTC 7291. After aerosolization all these organisms rapidly lost ability to retain intracellular potassium, as a consequence of damage initiated in the aerosol. Evidence for a positive correlation between survival and potassium retention was found over a limited range of conditions for most of the organisms examined. The significance of these results in relation to death processes in aerosolized bacteria is discussed.


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