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Role of sigB and osmolytes in desiccation survival of Listeria monocytogenes in simulated food soils on the surface of food grade stainless steel

Huang, Yannan, Ells, Timothy C., Truelstrup Hansen, Lisbeth
Food microbiology 2015 v.46 pp. 443-451
Listeria monocytogenes, betaine, carnitine, correlation, food pathogens, glucose, mutants, peptones, proline, protective effect, regulon, relative humidity, serotypes, soil, stainless steel
This research aimed to determine whether the SigB (σB) regulon and osmolytes impact the survival of the foodborne pathogen, Listeria monocytogenes, during desiccation in simulated food soils with varying salt and nutrient contents on food grade stainless steel (SS) surfaces. L. monocytogenes 568 (Lm568, serotype 1/2a), its isogenic sigB mutant (ΔsigB) and the back-complemented ΔsigB were desiccated in BHI, TSB with 1% glucose (TSB-glu), peptone physiological saline (PPS) and minimal media (MM) for 21 days at 43% relative humidity (RH) and 15 °C on SS. The effect of food related osmolytes (proline, betaine and carnitine) on desiccation survival was studied by (a) pre-culturing strains in MM with an osmolyte followed by desiccation in MM and (b) by desiccating strains in MM with an osmolyte.Desiccation survival of L. monocytogenes was positively correlated to the nutrient and osmolyte concentrations in the desiccation substrates. Initial Lm568 levels of 8 Log(CFU/cm2) decreased by 0.9 Log(CFU/cm2) in BHI and 1.1–2.9 Log(CFU/cm2) in TSB-glu, PPS and MM after 21 days. Comparatively, the initial survival of ΔsigB was reduced in PS and MM, while no differences were observed among the three strains in BHI and TSB-glu. Pre-culture in osmolyte containing MM enhanced (p < 0.05) desiccation survival of all strains. Desiccation in osmolyte-containing MM improved desiccation survival of all strains, albeit the protection was less than that observed after pre-culture with the osmolytes. Complementation of the ΔsigB mutant restored the wildtype phenotype.In conclusion, this work shows the protective effect of osmolytes in desiccation survival of L. monocytogenes, while the σB regulon only improved the initial survival in nutrient and osmolyte poor environments.