Current Microbiology

, Volume 62, Issue 6, pp 1802–1806 | Cite as

Interactions of Leptospira with Environmental Bacteria from Surface Water

  • Veronica A. BarraganEmail author
  • María Eugenia Mejia
  • Andrés Trávez
  • Sonia Zapata
  • Rudy A. Hartskeerl
  • David A. Haake
  • Gabriel A. Trueba


Leptospires can persist for months in nutrient-poor aqueous environments prior to transmission to a mammalian host. Interactions with environmental bacteria and biofilm formation are possible mechanisms of persistence of leptospires in the environment. Bacteria isolated from rivers in the Ecuadorian rainforest were tested for their ability to support leptospiral viability. We found that co-culture with Sphingomonas spp., but not Flavobacterium spp. or Delftia spp., enabled survival of L. biflexa and L. meyeri for up to a year in distilled water. We also found that L. interrogans biofilms formed in distilled water contained viable organisms that rapidly dispersed into the planktonic phase in the presence of nutrients in serum or EMJH medium. These data inform our understanding of leptospiral survival strategies that enable long-term persistence in nutrient-poor conditions yet allow rapid mobilization when nutrients become available.


Sphingomonas Leptospirosis Dark Field Microscopy Environmental Bacterium Environmental Microorganism 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Veronica A. Barragan
    • 1
    Email author
  • María Eugenia Mejia
    • 1
  • Andrés Trávez
    • 1
  • Sonia Zapata
    • 1
  • Rudy A. Hartskeerl
    • 4
  • David A. Haake
    • 2
    • 3
  • Gabriel A. Trueba
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of MicrobiologyUniversidad San Francisco de QuitoQuitoEcuador
  2. 2.VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System (GLA)Los AngelesUSA
  3. 3.The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLALos AngelesUSA
  4. 4.WHO/FAO/OIE and National Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Leptospirosis, Department of Biomedical ResearchRoyal Tropical Institute (KIT)AmsterdamThe Netherlands

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