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J Appl Microbiol. 2006 Sep;101(3):542-55.

Bacillus sporothermodurans and other highly heat-resistant spore formers in milk.

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Department for Animal Product Quality, Center for Agricultural Research, Ministry of the Flemish Community, Melle, Belgium.


A recent example of a micro-organism causing undesired growth in consumer milk is Bacillus sporothermodurans producing highly heat-resistant spores (HRS) which may survive ultra-high temperature (UHT) treatment or industrial sterilization. Molecular typing showed a heterogeneous group of farm isolates (non-HRS strains), but a clonal group of UHT isolates from diverse European countries and other continents (HRS-clone) suggesting a common source. During a survey of Belgian dairy farms for the presence of potentially highly heat-resistant spore formers, high numbers of these spores were detected in filter cloth, green crop and fodder samples. The strain collection showed a high taxonomic diversity with 18 potentially new species and with Bacillus licheniformis and Geobacillus pallidus as predominating species overall. Seventeen B. sporothermodurans isolates were identified, mainly originating from feed concentrate. Heat resistance studies showed the UHT resistance of B. sporothermodurans spores present in industrially contaminated UHT milk, but a lower heat resistance of laboratory-grown strains (HRS and non-HRS). Hydrogen peroxide, used as sanitizer in the dairy industry, was found to induce higher heat resistance of laboratory-grown B. sporothermodurans strains to a certain level. This indicates that sublethal stress conditions may affect the heat resistance. By transmission electron microscopy, structural differences at the spore level were found between HRS and non-HRS strains. The data indicate that the attainment of extreme heat resistance is rather multifactorial.

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