Quiescence of Escherichia coli Aerosols to Survive Mechanical Stress during High-Velocity Collection. Academic Article uri icon


  • A low cutpoint wetted wall bioaerosol sampling cyclone (LCP-WWC), with an aerosol sampling flow rate of 300 L/min at 55 H2O pressure drop and a continuous liquid outflow rate of about 0.2 mL/min, was developed by upgrading an existing system. The laboratory strain Escherichia coli MG1655 was aerosolized using a six-jet Collison Nebulizer and collected at high velocity using the LCP-WWC for 10 min with different collection liquids. Each sample was quantitated during a 15-day archiving period after aerosolization for culturable counts (CFUs) and gene copy numbers (GCNs) using microbial plating and whole-cell quantitative polymerase chain (qPCR) reaction. The samples were analyzed for protein composition and antimicrobial resistance using protein gel electrophoresis and disc diffusion susceptibility testing. Aerosolization and collection were followed by an initial period of quiescence or dormancy. After 2 days of archiving at 4 C and RT, the bacteria exhibited increased culturability and antibiotic resistance (ABR), especially to cell wall inhibitors (ampicillin and cephalothin). The number of resistant bacteria on Day 2 increased nearly four-times compared to the number of cells at the initial time of collection. The mechanical stress of aerosolization and high-velocity sampling likely stunned the cells triggering a response of dormancy, though with continued synthesis of vital proteins for survival. This study shows that an increase in intensity in environmental conditions surrounding airborne bacteria affects their ability to grow and their potential to develop antimicrobial resistance.

published proceedings

  • Microorganisms

author list (cited authors)

  • Smith, B. L., & King, M. D.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Smith, Brooke L||King, Maria D

publication date

  • March 2023