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Sensitivity of Acid-Adapted and Acid-Shocked Shigella flexneri to Reduced pH Achieved with Acetic, Lactic, and Propionic Acids

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Survival and growth characteristics of unadapted, acid-adapted, and acid-shocked Shigella flexneri 2a cells in acidified (pH 3.5 to 5.5) tryptic soy broth with 0.25% glucose (TSB) and tryptic soy agar (TSA) were determined. S. flexneri was grown at 37°C for 18 h in tryptic soy broth without glucose (TSBNG) (unadapted) and TSBNG supplemented with 1% glucose (TSBG) (acid-adapted). Cells grown in TSBNG were acid shocked by adjusting 16-h cultures to pH 5.05 ± 0.05 with lactic acid. Cells were then inoculated into TSB acidified with acetic, lactic, or propionic acids to pH 5.5, 4.5, or 3.5 and incubated at 37°C for 6 h. The order of lethality at a given pH was lactic acid < acetic acid < propionic acid. Significantly (P ≤ 0.05) higher numbers of acid-adapted cells, compared to acid-shocked and unadapted cells, were recovered from TSB acidified (pH 3.5) with lactic or acetic acids. None of the cells survived a 30-min exposure in TSB acidified with propionic acid to pH 3.5. When the three cell types were plated on TSA acidified with lactic, acetic, or propionic acids at pH ≤ 4.5, ≤5.5, and ≤5.5, respectively, visible colonies were not detected. Viable unadapted, acid-adapted, and acid-shocked cells were, however,recovered from TSA acidified with all three acids at pH ≥ 4.5. Acid-adapted and, to a lesser extent, acid-shocked cells survived at lower pH than did unadapted cells, indicating that prior exposure to mild acidic environment results in increased acid resistance. Survival of S. flexneri at a given pH was influenced by the type of acidulant used, a response characteristic exhibited by other gram-negative enteric pathogens.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Center for Food Safety and Department of Food Science and Technology, University of Georgia, 1109 Experiment Street, Griffin, Georgia 30223-1797, USA

Publication date: July 1, 2001

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    First published in 1937, the Journal of Food Protection®, is a refereed monthly publication. Each issue contains scientific research and authoritative review articles reporting on a variety of topics in food science pertaining to food safety and quality. The Journal is internationally recognized as the leading publication in the field of food microbiology with a readership exceeding 11,000 scientists from 70 countries. The Journal of Food Protection® is indexed in Index Medicus, Current Contents, BIOSIS, PubMed, Medline, and many others.

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