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Occurrence and growth characteristics of Escherichia coli and enterococci within the accumulated fluid of the northern pitcher plant (Sarracenia purpurea L.)

Canadian Journal of Microbiology

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DOI: 10.1139/w05-091

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Abstract

Sarracenia purpurea L., a carnivorous bog plant (also known as the pitcher plant), represents an excellent model of a well-defined, self-contained ecosystem; the individual pitchers of the plant serve as a microhabitat for a variety of micro- and macro-organisms. Previously, fecal indicator bacteria (Escherichia coli and enterococci) were shown as incidental contaminants in pitcher fluid; however, whether their occurrence in pitcher fluid is incidental or common has not been established. The purpose of this study was to investigate the occurrence, distribution, and growth potential of E. coli and enterococci in pitcher plant fluid from a protected bog in northwest Indiana. Escherichia coli and enterococci were recovered in pitcher fluids (n = 43 plants), with mean densities (log CFU mL-1) of 1.28 ± 0.23 and 1.97 ± 0.27, respectively. In vitro experiments showed that E. coli growth in fluid not containing insects or indigenous organisms was directly proportional to the fluid concentration (growth was 10-fold in 24 h in 100% fluid); however, in the presence of other indigenous organisms, E. coli and enterococci were only sustained for 5 days at 26 °C. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) analysis showed that the plant Enterococcus faecalis isolates were genetically distinct from the human isolates; identical PFGE patterns were observed among plant isolates that fell into one of six clonal groups. These findings suggest that (i) E. coli and enterococci occurrence in pitcher plants is rather common in the bog studied, although their originating source is unclear, and (ii) the pitcher fluid contains adequate nutrients, especially carbon and energy sources, to promote the growth of indicator bacteria; however, under natural conditions, the biotic factors (e.g., competition for nutrients) may restrict their growth.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Occurrence and growth characteristics of Escherichia coli and enterococci within the accumulated fluid of the northern pitcher plant (Sarracenia purpurea L.)
Series title:
Canadian Journal of Microbiology
DOI:
10.1139/w05-091
Volume
51
Issue:
12
Year Published:
2005
Language:
English
Contributing office(s):
Great Lakes Science Center
Description:
11 p.
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Canadian Journal of Microbiology
First page:
1027
Last page:
1037
Number of Pages:
10