The subject of anabiosis or “latent life” has long intrigued microbiologists and philosophers. It is well established that some microorganisms, notably the grampositive spore formers, can under certain conditions be deprived of all visible signs of life, and yet these organisms are not dead. When their original conditions are restored, they can return to normal life and activity (61). This state of an organism has been referred to in the older literature variously as “viable lifelessness,” suspended animation, viability, latent life, and even by the not very suitable term “anabiosis,” meaning “latent life.” This last term was used to describe the state of an organism when its metabolic activity is at lowest ebb, reaching a hardly measurable value and, in some cases, the physiological and biochemical processes being reversibly arrested for varying periods of time.


Interstitial Cystitis Latent Life Vibrio Cholerae Aeromonas Salmonicida Nonculturable State 
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Copyright information

© ASM Press, Washington, D.C. 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rita R. Colwell
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Center of Marine Biotechnology, Columbus CenterUniversity of Maryland Biotechnology InstituteBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Department of Cell and Molecular BiologyUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA

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