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Food Microbiol. 2012 Feb;29(1):10-7. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2011 Jul 23.

Low concentration of ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) affects biofilm formation of Listeria monocytogenes by inhibiting its initial adherence.

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Department of Food Science, University of Massachusetts, 102 Holdsworth Way, Amherst, MA 01003, USA.


The distribution and survival of the food-borne pathogen Listeria monocytogenes is associated with its biofilm formation ability, which is affected by various environmental factors. Here we present the first evidence that EDTA at low concentration levels inhibits the biofilm formation of L. monocytogenes. This effect of EDTA is not caused by a general growth inhibition, as 0.1 mM EDTA efficiently reduced the biofilm formation of L. monocytogenes without affecting the planktonic growth. Adding 0.1 mM of EDTA at the starting time of biofilm formation had the strongest biofilm inhibitory effect, while the addition of EDTA after 8 h had no biofilm inhibitory effects. EDTA was shown to inhibit cell-to-surface interactions and cell-to-cell interactions, which at least partially contributed to the repressed initial adherence. The addition of sufficient amounts of cations to saturate EDTA did not restore the biofilm formation, indicating the biofilm inhibition was not due to the chelating properties of EDTA. The study suggests that EDTA functions in the early stage of biofilm process by affecting the initial adherence of L. monocytogenes cells onto abiotic surfaces.

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