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Lett Appl Microbiol. 2000 Jan;30(1):23-7.

Osmoprotectants and cryoprotectants for Listeria monocytogenes.

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Microbial Food Safety Research Unit, Eastern Regional Research Center, Agricultural Research Service, US Department of Agriculture, Wyndmoor, PA, USA.


Listeria monocytogenes is a foodborne pathogen that can grow in high osmotic strength environments and at refrigeration temperatures. Glycine betaine, proline betaine, acetylcarnitine, carnitine, gamma-butyrobetaine and 3-dimethylsulphoniopropionate all acted as osmoprotectants, as evidenced by an increase in growth rate of L. monocytogenes 10403S and Scott A when provided with these compounds, while being stressed in defined medium containing 0.7 M NaCl. These same compounds exhibited cryoprotective activity, as evidenced by increasing the growth rate of L. monocytogenes at 5 degrees C. Ectoine, hydroxy ectoine, pipecolic acid and proline were ineffective as osmoprotectants or cryoprotectants under these conditions. The presence of osmoprotectants and cryoprotectants in foods may provide compounds assisting L. monocytogenes to overcome the barriers of high osmotic strength and low temperature that otherwise control microbial growth.

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