This study showed that in vitro survival of Salmonella typhimurium, after exposure to haemocytes of Mytilus edulis, was significantly affected by the lipopolysaccharides (LPS) structures expressed on the cell surface of the bacteria. Survival seemed to be affected by the surrounding temperature as well. Mussel haemocytes were in vitro exposed to mutants of S. typhimurium, expressing differences in O -antigen polysaccharide chains and core sugars of LPS on their cell surface. Surviving cells of the mutants were determined after incubation with the haemocytes at different temperatures, using a colorimetric assay. In addition, a complementary study on clearance of these mutants, inoculated into the adductor muscle of mussels, was performed at 6 and 20 degrees C. It was concluded that the survival index (SI%) measured in vitro for the mutant with complete LPS was significantly lower at 6 degrees C (c.15%) compared to that at 14 and 20 degrees C (c.70%). SI% for the other mutants was c.35-45% and was not affected by temperature. The in vivo study at 20 degrees C showed that during the first 24h, the clearance rate for the mutants with complete LPS was significantly higher than for the others. Thereafter all mutants, with exception for the most deficient, started to increase in numbers and caused death to the mussels. At 6 degrees C the mutants were slowly reduced and after 17 days, viable cells of the mutant with complete LPS were still detectable in the haemolymph. The study indicated that the mussel haemocytes responded in relation to the LPS of the mutants. However, more intact LPS also seemed to protect the bacteria from being killed. The higher temperatures favoured the growth of the mutants that managed to resist the haemocyte defence. Cell surface properties and temperature seem to affect the survival of bacteria in mussels, which consequently can affect risk assessments in regard to public health.
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