Cell wall deficiency – an alternate bacterial lifestyle?

James J. Lazenby, Erica S. Li, Cynthia B. Whitchurch

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
15 Downloads (Pure)


Historically, many species of bacteria have been reported to produce viable, cell wall deficient (CWD) variants. A variety of terms have been used to refer to CWD bacteria and a plethora of methods described in which to induce, cultivate and propagate them. In this review, we will examine the long history of scientific research on CWD bacteria examining the methods by which CWD bacteria are generated; the requirements for survival in a CWD state; the replicative processes within a CWD state; and the reversion of CWD bacteria into a walled state, or lack thereof. In doing so, we will present evidence that not all CWD variants are alike and that, at least in some cases, CWD variants arise through an adaptive lifestyle switch that enables them to live and thrive without a cell wall, often to avoid antimicrobial activity. Finally, the implications of CWD bacteria in recurring infections, tolerance to antibiotic therapy and antimicrobial resistance will be examined to illustrate the importance of greater understanding of the CWD bacteria in human health and disease.
Original languageEnglish
Article number001218
JournalMicrobiology (United Kingdom)
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 4 Aug 2022


  • AMR
  • antibiotic tolerance
  • antimicrobial resistance
  • CWD
  • L-form. er membrane
  • PBP, penicillin binding protein
  • ROS, reac

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