Three bacterial strains, which serve as hosts for plasmids containing phenotypes of environmental interest, were subjected to freeze-drying and storage. Plasmid-encoded phenotypes investigated included heavy metal resistance in A. eutrophus and S. aureus and catechol 2,3-oxygenase
enzyme activity in A. eutrophus and P. putida Both freeze drying and storage treatments were found to affect strain viability and plasmid phenotype expression. In all cases studied, loss of strain viability was greater than 95.6% after freeze-drying. Strain viability losses were
accompanied by phenotype losses which averaged an order of magnitude greater than viability losses. Viability and phenotype loss continued during storage and were described using first-order decay. The implications of these trends for application of specialized cultures to promote enhanced
biodegradation are discussed.
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