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Int J Food Microbiol. 2002 May 5;75(1-2):1-9.

Elevated carnitine accumulation by Listeria monocytogenes impaired in glycine betaine transport is insufficient to restore wild-type cryotolerance in milk whey.

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Department of Food Science and Technology, University of California, Davis 95616, USA.


Listeria monocytogenes accumulates low molecular weight compounds (osmolytes, or compatible solutes) in response to chill stress. This response has been shown to be responsible, in part, for the chill tolerance of the species. Among the osmolytes tested to date, glycine betaine, gamma-butyrobetaine and carnitine display the strongest cryoprotective effect. These osmolytes are not synthesized in the cell and must be transported from the medium. In this study, the compatible solute accumulation profile of the food-borne pathogen L. monocytogenes was determined in balanced growth and stationary phase cultures grown in milk whey at 7 and 30 degrees C. In balanced growth cultures at 7 degrees C, glycine betaine (720 nmol/10(10) cfu) and carnitine (130 nmol/10(10) cfu) were the major osmolytes accumulated by wild-type L. monocytogenes 10403S, whereas carnitine (490 nmol/10(10) cfu) was the dominant osmolyte and glycine betaine was present in smaller amounts (270 nmol/10(10) cfu) in a mutant (L. monocytogenes LTG59) blocked in the major glycine betaine uptake system, glycine betaine porter II. In strain 10403S, glycine betaine and carnitine were present in eightfold and twofold excess at 7 degrees C compared to 30 degrees C; the respective ratios for strain LTG59 were 6 and 8. The intracellular concentration of osmolytes in stationary phase cultures at 7 degrees C was markedly reduced compared to that during balanced growth. Furthermore, at 4 degrees C, small but highly significant differences in growth were observed between strains. Strain LTG59 grew with a lag phase that was significantly longer, a generation time that was significantly greater and reached a final cell yield that was significantly lower than that of strain 10403S. The elevated accumulation of carnitine in the absence of glycine betaine porter II was insufficient to confer the magnitude of the cryoprotective effect displayed by the wild type.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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