VBNC, previously unrecognized in the life cycle of Porphyromonas gingivalis? Academic Article uri icon


  • Bacteria are exposed to stresses during their growth and multiplication in their ecological systems to which they respond in multiple ways as expert survivalists. One such response mechanism is to convert to a viable but not culturable (VBNC) state. As the name indicates, bacteria in the VBNC state have lost their ability to grow on routine growth medium. A large number of bacteria including many pathogenic species have been reported to be able to enter a VBNC state. VBNC differs from culturable cells in various physiological properties which may result in changes in chemical resistance, adhesion, cellular morphology, metabolism, gene expression, membrane and cell wall composition and/or virulence. The ability of VBNC bacteria to return to the culturable state or resuscitate, when the stressor is removed poses a considerable threat to public health. There have been few publications that overtly describe the ability of oral pathogenic species to enter the VBNC state. However, the presence of VBNCs among oral pathogens such as Porphyromonas gingivalis in human chronic infections may be an important virulence factor and have severe implications for therapy. In this review, we intend to i) define and summarize the significance of the VBNC state in general and ii) discuss the VBNC state of oral bacteria with regard to P. gingivalis. Future studies focused on this phenomenon of intraoral VBNC would provide novel molecular insights on the virulence and persistence of oral pathogens during chronic infections and identify potential novel therapies.

published proceedings

  • J Oral Microbiol

altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • Progulske-Fox, A., Chukkapalli, S. S., Getachew, H., Dunn, W. A., & Oliver, J. D.

citation count

  • 1

complete list of authors

  • Progulske-Fox, A||Chukkapalli, SS||Getachew, H||Dunn, WA||Oliver, JD

publication date

  • December 2022