Campylobacter jejuni cells are able to enter a viable but nonculturable (VBNC) state when they are suspended in water. In the present experiments we inoculated day-of-hatch leghorn and broiler chicks with normal gut microflora and subsequently challenged these with high doses of VBNC C. jejuni. The objective was to determine if the pre-establishment of a normal gut flora would enable VBNC Campylobacter to recover, revert to the vibrionic form, and colonize the cecum. Day-of-hatch leghorn and broiler chicks were gavaged through the esophagus with 0.75 ml of a continuous-flow culture of normal cecal organisms. Two days after gavage, the same chicks were gavaged with 0.75 ml (greater than 109 colony-forming units) of a VBNC suspension of C. jejuni. Seven days later, cecal contents were collected, serially diluted, and examined for the presence of viable culturable C. jejuni. Our results demonstrated that the VBNC C. jejuni cells were unable to revert to a vibrionic culturable form capable of colonizing the cecum.
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Vol. 48 • No. 3