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Effect of Temperature, pH, and Water Activity on Biofilm Formation by Salmonella enterica Enteritidis PT4 on Stainless Steel Surfaces as Indicated by the Bead Vortexing Method and Conductance Measurements

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An assay was developed in an effort to elucidate the effect of important environmental parameters (temperature, pH, and water activity [aw]) on Salmonella Enteritidis biofilm formation on stainless steel surfaces. To achieve this, a modified microbiological technique used for biofilm studying (the bead vortexing method) and a rapid method based on conductivity measurements were used. The ability of the microorganism to generate biofilm on the stainless surfaces was studied at three temperatures (5, 20, and 37°C), four pH values (4.5, 5.5, 6.5, and 7.4), and four aw values (0.5, 1.5, 5.5, and 10.5% NaCl). Results obtained by the bead vortexing method show that maximum numbers of adherent bacteria per square centimeter (106 CFU/cm2) were attained in 6 days at 20°C. Biofilm formation after 7 days of incubation at 20°C was found to be independent of the pH value. In addition, the high concentration of sodium chloride (10.5% NaCl, aw = 0.94) clearly inhibited the adherence of cells to the coupons. Conductance measurements were used as a supplementary tool to measure indirectly the attachment and biofilm formation of bacterial cells on stainless steel surfaces via their metabolic activity (i.e., changes in the conductance of the growth medium due to microbial growth or metabolism). Results obtained by conductance measurements corresponded well to those of the bead vortexing method. Furthermore, we were able to detect cells that remained attached on the metal surfaces even after vortexing via their metabolic activity. The results, except for demonstrating environmental-dependent Salmonella Enteritidis biofilm formation, indicated that traditional vortexing with beads did not remove completely biofilm cells from stainless steel; hence, conductance measurements seem to provide a more sensitive test capable to detect down to one single viable organism.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Laboratory of Microbiology and Biotechnology of Foods, Department of Food Science and Technology, Agricultural University of Athens, Athens, Greece

Publication date: October 1, 2005

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