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Effect of Nutrient Starvation on the Resistance of Escherichia coli O157:H7 to Subsequent Heat Stress

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The resistance of three strains of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in their stationary growth phase to starvation (24 h in water at 37°C) followed by a heat treatment (56°C for up to 90 min) was determined. Starvation was found to increase significantly the resistance of two strains (NCTC 12079; eae+, VT1+, VT2+, and ATCC 43889 eae+, VT2+) but not the remaining strain (ATCC 43890 eae+, VT1+). Strain NCTC 12079 (only one tested) was shown to retain all of the three virulence factors after the two stresses. De novo protein synthesis was shown to be required for heat resistance. Evidence using an rpoS mutant indicated a central role for this gene in inducing heat resistance after a starvation stress. It is hoped that this work will contribute to more accurate risk assessments in certain food processing operations.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Food Microbiology, Food Science Division, Department of Agriculture for Northern Ireland, Newforge Lane, Belfast BT9 5PX, Northern Ireland; Food Science Department, the Queen's University of Belfast, Newforge Lane, Belfast BT9 5PX, Northern Ireland, UK 2: Food Microbiology, Food Science Division, Department of Agriculture for Northern Irela0nd, Newforge Lane, Belfast BT9 5PX, Northern Ireland

Publication date: December 1, 2000

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