Clostridium sporogenes PA 3679 and Its Uses in the Derivation of Thermal Processing Schedules for Low-Acid Shelf-Stable Foods and as a Research Model for Proteolytic Clostridium botulinum

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The putrefactive anaerobe Clostridium sporogenes PA 3679 has been widely used as a nontoxigenic surrogate for proteolytic Clostridium botulinum in the validation of thermal processes for low-acid shelf-stable foods, as a target organism in the derivation of thermal processes that reduce the risk of spoilage of such foods to an acceptable level, and as a research model for proteolytic strains of C. botulinum. Despite the importance of this organism, our knowledge of it has remained fragmented. In this article we draw together the literature associated with PA 3679 and discuss the identity of this organism, the phylogenetic relationships that exist between PA 3679 and various strains of C. sporogenes and proteolytic C. botulinum, the heat resistance characteristics of PA 3679, the advantages and limitations associated with its use in the derivation of thermal processing schedules, and the knowledge gaps and opportunities that exist with regard to its use as a research model for proteolytic C. botulinum. Phylogenetic analysis reviewed here suggests that PA 3679 is more closely related to various strains of proteolytic C. botulinum than to selected strains, including the type strain, of C. sporogenes. Even though PA 3679 is demonstrably nontoxigenic, the genetic basis of this nontoxigenic status remains to be elucidated, and the genetic sequence of this microorganism appears to be the key knowledge gap remaining to be filled. Our comprehensive review of comparative heat resistance data gathered for PA 3679 and proteolytic strains of C. botulinum over the past 100 years supports the practice of using PA 3679 as a (typically fail-safe) thermal processing surrogate for proteolytic C. botulinum.

Document Type: Review Article


Affiliations: 1: CSIRO Food and Nutritional Sciences, P.O. Box 52, North Ryde, New South Wales 1670, Australia., Email: 2: CSIRO Food and Nutritional Sciences, P.O. Box 52, North Ryde, New South Wales 1670, Australia

Publication date: April 1, 2012

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