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Int J Food Microbiol. 2008 Apr 30;123(3):212-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2008.01.015. Epub 2008 Feb 8.

Modifications in membrane fatty acid composition of Salmonella typhimurium in response to growth conditions and their effect on heat resistance.

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Departamento de Higiene y Tecnología de los Alimentos, Facultad de Veterinaria, Universidad de León, 24071 León, Spain.


The effects of growth temperature (in the range 10-45 degrees C) and acidification up to pH 4.5 of the culture medium (Brain Heart Infusion, BHI) with different organic acids (acetic, citric and lactic) and hydrochloric acid on membrane fatty acid composition and heat resistance of Salmonella typhimurium CECT 443 were studied. The heat resistance was maximal in cells grown at 45 degrees C (cells grown in non-acidified BHI showed a D58-value of 0.90 min) and decreased with decreasing growth temperature up to 10 degrees C (D58-value of 0.09 min). The growth of cells in acidified media caused an increase in their heat resistance. In general, acid adapted cells showed D-values of between 1.5 and 2 times higher than the corresponding for non-acid adapted control cells. This cross-protection response, which has important implications in food processing, was not dependent on the pH value and the acid used to acidify the growth medium. A membrane adaptation corresponding to an increase in the unsaturated to saturated fatty acids ratio (UFA/SFA) and membrane fluidity was observed at low growth temperature. Moreover, the acidification of the growth medium caused a decrease in UFA/SFA ratio and in the C18:1 relative concentration, and an increase in cyclopropane fatty acids (CFA) content mainly due to the increase in cyc19 relative concentration. Thus, acid adapted cells showed CFA levels 1.5 times higher than non-acid adapted control cells. A significant proportion of unsaturated fatty acids were converted to their cyclopropane derivatives during acid adaptation. These changes in membrane fatty acid composition result in cells with decreased membrane fluidity. A clear relation between membrane fatty acid composition and heat resistance was observed. In general, D-values were maximum for cells with low UFA/SFA ratio, and, consequently, with low membrane fluidity. Moreover, CFA formation played a major role in protecting acid adapted cells from heat inactivation. However, changes observed in membrane fatty acid composition are not enough to explain the great thermotolerance of cells grown at 45 degrees C. Thus, other mechanisms, such as the synthesis of Heat Shock Proteins, could be responsible for this increase in the bacterial heat resistance.

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