, Volume 142, Issue 4, pp 326-332

Physiological and morphological changes during short term starvation of marine bacterial islates

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Three marine bacteria were examined for physiological and morphological changes in the initial phase of starvation. It was found that the starvation process was induced in a similar way irrespective of whether the cells were suspended in nutrient and energy free artificial seawater (NSS) or NSS supplemented with nitrogen and phosphorus. An initial phase of increased activity was consistent with a decreased response to added nutrients. Recovery from starvation exhibited the same response in both these starvation regimes, measured throughout the starvation period. Cells in nitrogen or phosphorus deprived starvation regimes, showed a high and rapid increased activity, followed by a delayed and more pronounced decline in respiratory activity. The initial phase of starvation also included a loss of poly-β-hydroybutyrate as observed by transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Two bacterial strains showed formation of small vesicles on the outer cell layer when examined by TEM. This formation and release of vesicles was related to the continuous size reduction during starvation survival. The results are discussed in terms of defining the mechanisms of initial cellular responses to nutrient deprivation.