Culturable and VBNC Vibrio cholerae: Interactions with chironomid egg masses and their bacterial population

Malka Halpern, Ori Landsberg, Dina Raats, Eugene Rosenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Vibrio cholerae, the etiologic agent of cholera, is autochthonous to various aquatic environments. Recently, it was found that chironomid (nonbiting midges) egg masses serve as a reservoir for the cholera bacterium and that flying chironomid adults are possible windborne carriers of V. cholerae non-O1 non-O139. Chironomids are the most widely distributed insect in freshwater. Females deposit egg masses at the water's edge, and each egg mass contains eggs embedded in a gelatinous matrix. Hemagglutinin/protease, an extracellular enzyme of V. cholerae, was found to degrade chironomid egg masses and to prevent them from hatching. In a yearly survey, chironomid populations and the V. cholerae in their egg masses followed phenological succession and interaction of host-pathogen population dynamics. In this report, it is shown via FISH technique that most of the V. cholerae inhabiting the egg mass are in the viable but nonculturable (VBNC) state. The diversity of culturable bacteria from chironomid egg masses collected from two freshwater habitats was determined. In addition to V. cholerae, representatives of the following genera were isolated: Acinetobacter, Aeromonas, Klebsiella, Shewanella, Pseudomonas, Paracoccus, Exiguobacterium, and unidentified bacteria. Three important human pathogens, Aeromonas veronii, A. caviae, and A. hydrophila, were isolated from chironomid egg masses, indicating that chironomid egg masses may be a natural reservoir for pathogenic Aeromonas species in addition to V. cholerae. All isolates of V. cholerae were capable of degrading chironomid egg masses. This may help explain their host-pathogen relationship with chironomids. In contrast, almost none of the other bacteria that were isolated from the egg masses possessed this ability. Studying the interaction between chironomid egg masses, the bacteria inhabiting them, and V. cholerae could contribute to our understanding of the nature of the V. cholerae-egg mass interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285-293
Number of pages9
JournalMicrobial Ecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Soil Science
  • Ecology


Dive into the research topics of 'Culturable and VBNC Vibrio cholerae: Interactions with chironomid egg masses and their bacterial population'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this