Cultivation strategies for growth of uncultivated bacteria.
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J Oral Biosci
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BACKGROUND: The majority of environmental bacteria and around a third of oral bacteria remain uncultivated. Furthermore, several bacterial phyla have no cultivable members and are recognised only by detection of their DNA by molecular methods. Possible explanations for the resistance of certain bacteria to cultivation in purity in vitro include: unmet fastidious growth requirements; inhibition by environmental conditions or chemical factors produced by neighbouring bacteria in mixed cultures; or conversely, dependence on interactions with other bacteria in the natural environment, without which they cannot survive in isolation. Auxotrophic bacteria, with small genomes lacking in the necessary genetic material to encode for essential nutrients, frequently rely on close symbiotic relationships with other bacteria for survival, and may therefore be recalcitrant to cultivation in purity. HIGHLIGHT: Since in-vitro culture is essential for the comprehensive characterisation of bacteria, particularly with regard to virulence and antimicrobial resistance, the cultivation of uncultivated organisms has been a primary focus of several research laboratories. Many targeted and open-ended strategies have been devised and successfully used. Examples include: the targeted detection of specific bacteria in mixed plate cultures using colony hybridisation; growth in simulated natural environments or in co-culture with 'helper' strains; and modified media preparation techniques or development of customised media eg. supplementation of media with potential growth-stimulatory factors such as siderophores. CONCLUSION: Despite significant advances in recent years in methodologies for the cultivation of previously uncultivated bacteria, a substantial proportion remain to be cultured and efforts to devise high-throughput strategies should be a high priority.