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The antibacterial activity of rhamnolipid biosurfactant is pH dependent

de Freitas Ferreira, Jakeline, Vieira, Estevão Alan, Nitschke, Marcia
Food research international 2019 v.116 pp. 737-744
Bacillus cereus, Salmonella enterica, Staphylococcus aureus, anti-infective agents, antibacterial properties, bacteria, biosurfactants, cell membranes, enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli, environmental factors, food pathogens, hydrophobicity, pH, rhamnolipids, scanning electron microscopy
Rhamnolipid (RL) biosurfactants have been studied as agents to control the growth of food pathogens however, to be successful applied as antimicrobial agent in food, is important to determine the effect of environmental conditions on RL activity. Once pH is a determinant factor to the development of microorganisms in food, we investigated the antimicrobial activity of RL under different pH values. The antimicrobial activity of RL against the Gram-positive pathogens L. monocytogenes, B. cereus and S. aureus was pH dependent and favored at more acidic conditions while the Gram-negative Salmonella enterica and E. coli (EHEC) showed resistance at all pH levels studied. Bacillus cereus was the most sensitive bacteria showing MIC of 19.5 μg/mL and eradication of the population was observed after 30 min with 39.1 μg/mL of RL. The sensitivity to RL was associated with reduction on cell surface hydrophobicity and cytoplasmic membrane damage. Scanning Electron Microscopy images evidenced the cell damage promoted by RL on sensitive strains. The pH is an important factor to be considered on developing RL-based strategies to the control of food pathogens.