Bacterial Persistence: a Winning Strategy?

O. Garet, R. Marchand, R.B. Schinazi

2012, v.18, Issue 4, 639-650


It has long been known that antibiotic treatment will not completely kill off a bacteria population. For many species a small fraction of bacteria is not sensitive to antibiotics. These bacteria are said to persist. Recently it has been shown that persistence is not a permanent state and that in fact a bacterium can switch back and forth between persistent and non persistent states. We introduce two stochastic models for bacteria persistence. In both models there are mass killings of non persistent bacteria at certain times. The first model has deterministic killing times and the second one has random killing times. Both models suggest that persistence may be a successful strategy for a wide range of parameter values.

Keywords: bacteria persistence,stochastic model,branching process,random environment


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