Table 2

“Glossary of terms used to describe the 3 major physiological states defined herein” (cited from[3])
Physiological state Phenotype
Viable Capable of division; will form a colony on an agar plate.
Vital or dormant Unable to divide or to form a colony on an agar plate without a preceding resuscitation phase.
Non-viable Incapable of division; will not form a colony on an agar plate under any tested condition.

We use the phrases ‘starvation’ or ‘starving cells’ to refer to the environmental conditions under which cells are incubated, rather than to a physiological state. Thus starved cells (or cells that have suffered other stresses) may or may not be dormant. Despite historical usage of these terms, the phrases ‘direct viable count’ and ‘viable-but-non-culturable’ are misnomers, since such cells are not viable as defined above.

Netuschil et al.

Netuschil et al. BMC Oral Health 2014 14:2   doi:10.1186/1472-6831-14-2

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