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Journal: Food microbiology


Production of sea salt begins with evaporation of sea water in shallow pools called salterns, and ends with the harvest and packing of salts. This process provides many opportunities for fungal contamination. This study aimed to determine whether finished salts contain viable fungi that have the potential to cause spoilage when sea salt is used as a food ingredient by isolating fungi on a medium that simulated salted food with a lowered water activity (0.95 aw). The viable filamentous fungi from seven commercial salts were quantified and identified by DNA sequencing, and the fungal communities in different salts were compared. Every sea salt tested contained viable fungi, in concentrations ranging from 0.07 to 1.71 colony-forming units per gram of salt. In total, 85 fungi were isolated representing seven genera. One or more species of the most abundant genera, Aspergillus, Cladosporium, and Penicillium was found in every salt. Many species found in this study have been previously isolated from low water activity environments, including salterns and foods. We conclude that sea salts contain many fungi that have potential to cause food spoilage as well as some that may be mycotoxigenic.

Concepts: Biology, Fungus, Water, Mycotoxin, Sodium chloride, Ascomycota, Salt, Edible salt


The effect of NaCl on plantaricin production by five Lactobacillus plantarum strains was investigated. Plantaricin production in these strains was found to be regulated by three-component regulatory systems ruled by two different autoinducer peptides (AIPs), either PLNC8IF or Plantaricin A. Bacteriocin activity exhibited by these strains came to a halt in liquid medium containing NaCl concentrations of or above 2%. In contrast, bacteriocin activity was still observed when the producing strains were growing on solid medium containing up to 4% NaCl. Bacteriocin activity in liquid medium containing up to 2% NaCl could be restored by coculturing the producing strains with a selected plantaricin-production inducing strain of Lactococcus lactis. Growth of these bacteriocinogenic L. plantarum strains was monitored in traditional Spanish-style green olive fermentations. Survival of these strains could not be enhanced when provided with a range of plantaricin-production inducing mechanisms previously described, such as constitutive AIP production or coinoculation with a specific bacteriocin-production inducing strain of L. lactis. Our results suggest that it is advisable the use of constitutive bacteriocin producers, or at least non-AIP-dependant ones, as starters for olive fermentations due to the intrinsic physical characteristics of this food fermentation, especially the high salt concentration of the brines currently used.

Concepts: Bacteria, Microbiology, Concentration, Regulation, Lactobacillus plantarum, Fermentation, Lactococcus lactis, Sauerkraut


There has been increasing interest in the use of selected non-Saccharomyces yeasts in co-culture with Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The main reason is that the multistarter fermentation process is thought to simulate indigenous fermentation, thus increasing wine aroma complexity while avoiding the risks linked to natural fermentation. However, multistarter fermentation is characterised by complex and largely unknown interactions between yeasts. Consequently the resulting wine quality is rather unpredictable. In order to better understand the interactions that take place between non-Saccharomyces and Saccharomyces yeasts during alcoholic fermentation, we analysed the volatile profiles of several mono-culture and co-cultures. Candida zemplinina, Torulaspora delbrueckii and Metschnikowia pulcherrima were used to conduct fermentations either in mono-culture or in co-culture with S. cerevisiae. Up to 48 volatile compounds belonging to different chemical families were quantified. For the first time, we show that C. zemplinina is a strong producer of terpenes and lactones. We demonstrate by means of multivariate analysis that different interactions exist between the co-cultures studied. We observed a synergistic effect on aromatic compound production when M. pulcherrima was in co-culture with S. cerevisiae. However a negative interaction was observed between C. zemplinina and S. cerevisiae, which resulted in a decrease in terpene and lactone content. These interactions are independent of biomass production. The aromatic profiles of T. delbrueckii and S. cerevisiae in mono-culture and in co-culture are very close, and are biomass-dependent, reflecting a neutral interaction. This study reveals that a whole family of compounds could be altered by such interactions. These results suggest that the entire metabolic pathway is affected by these interactions.

Concepts: Yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Saccharomyces pastorianus, Brewing, Yeasts, Saccharomycetes, Saccharomycetaceae, Sauvignon blanc


The purpose of this study was to understand the significance of each microorganism in grain formation by evaluating their microbial aggregation and cell surface properties during co-aggregation of LAB and yeasts together with an investigation of biofilm formation. Non-grain forming strains from viili were also evaluated as a comparison. Results indicated that the kefir grain strains, Lactobacillus kefiranofaciens and Saccharomyces turicensis possess strong auto-aggregation ability and that Lactobacillus kefiri shows significant biofilm formation properties. Significant co-aggregation was noted when S. turicensis and kefir LAB strains (Lb. kefiranofaciens and Lb. kefiri) were co-cultured. Most of the tested LAB strains are hydrophilic and had a negative charge on their cell surface. Only the kefir LAB strains, Lb. kefiranofaciens HL1 and Lb. kefiri HL2, possessed very high hydrophobicity and had a positive cell surface charge at pH 4.2. In contrast, the LAB and yeasts in viili did not show any significant self-aggregation or biofilm formation. Based on the above results, we propose that grain formation begins with the self-aggregation of Lb. kefiranofaciens and S. turicensis to form small granules. At this point, the biofilm producer, Lb. kefiri, then begins to attach to the surface of granules and co-aggregates with other organisms and components in the milk to form the grains. On sub-culturing, more organisms attach to the grains resulting in grain growth. When investigated by scanning electron microscopy, it was found that short-chain lactobacilli such as Lb. kefiri occupy the surface, while long-chain lactobacilli such as Lb. kefiranofaciens have aggregated towards the center of the kefir grains. These findings agree with the above hypothesis on the formation of grains. Taken together, this study demonstrates the importance of cell surface properties together with fermentation conditions to the formation of grains in kefir.

Concepts: Electron, Archaea, Bacteria, Organism, Microbiology, Milk, Microorganism, Kefir


Low levels of High Pressure of Homogenization (HPH) can be applied directly to lactic acid bacteria cells in order to enhance some functional properties. In a previous work we observed that a 50 MPa HPH treatment increased Lactobacillus paracasei A13 hydrophobicity and resistance to simulated gastric digestion. The aim of this work was to assess the in vivo effects of HPH treatment applied to probiotic lactobacilli on their interaction capacity with the gut and on their ability to induce IgA cell proliferation in mice intestine. BALB/c mice received FITC-labelled cultures of strains, previously treated or not (control) at 50 MPa. Fluorescently labelled cells were studied in the intestine of animals sacrificed 10 and 30 min after intragastric intubation. HPH-treated and control cultures of each strain were orally administered to mice for 2, 5 or 7 consecutive days. The number of IgA-producing cells in the gut was studied by immunohistochemistry. HPH treated probiotic lactobacilli modified their interaction with the small intestine. HPH-treated cells induced a higher IgA response compared to untreated ones, in a strain- and feeding period-dependent way. HPH treatment could increase some in vivo functional characteristics of probiotic strains, highlighting the potential of this technique for the development of probiotic cultures.

Concepts: Bacteria, Gut flora, Microbiology, Small intestine, Lactic acid, Probiotic, Lactobacillus, Lactic acid bacteria


This study was undertaken to model and predict growth of Salmonella and the dominating natural microbiota, and their interaction in ground pork. Growth of Salmonella in sterile ground pork at constant temperatures between 4 °C and 38 °C was quantified and used for developing predictive models for lag time, max. specific growth rate and max. population density. Data from literature were used to develop growth models for the natural pork microbiota. Challenge tests at temperatures from 9.4 to 24.1 °C and with Salmonella inoculated in ground pork were used for evaluation of interaction models. The existing Jameson-effect and Lotka-Volterra species interaction models and a new expanded Jameson-effect model were evaluated. F-test indicated lack-of-fit for the classical Jameson-effect model at all of the tested temperatures and at 14.1-20.2 °C this was caused by continued growth of Salmonella after the natural microbiota had reached their max. population density. The new expanded Jameson-effect model and the Lotka-Volterra model performed better and appropriately described the continued but reduced growth of Salmonella after the natural microbiota had reached their max. population density. The expanded Jameson-effect model is a new and simple species interaction model, which performed as well as the more complex Lotka-Volterra model.

Concepts: Regression analysis, Biology, Fundamental physics concepts, Predation, Lotka–Volterra equation, Population density, Model


Biofilm matrices are formed largely of extracellular polymeric substance (EPS). This study was conducted to investigate biofilm formation and EPS production by Cronobacter sakazakii under various conditions (media, nutrition, and relative humidity (RH)) by quantification of EPS and cell populations, Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscope (FE-SEM), and colony observation. Various agar media conditions (TSA without dextrose (W/D), M9 minimum salt medium (MSM) agar, and M9 MSM agar with 3% glucose, 3% NaCl, 3% Tween 80, 3% sucrose, and adjusted to pH 5 with HCl) were prepared. C. sakazakii biofilm formed on the surface of stainless steel coupons (SSCs) immersed in TSB W/D and M9 MSM with or without 0, 1, 3, and 5% sucrose and subsequently exposed to various RH levels (23, 43, 68, 85, and 100%). EPS production by C. sakazakii on TSA W/D was significantly higher than that on other media after 1 and 2 days. However, C. sakazakii ATCC 12868 produced the highest levels of EPS (209.18 ± 16.13 and 207.22 ± 4.14 μg/mL after 1 and 2 days, respectively) on M9 MSM agar with 3% sucrose. Regarding C. sakazakii ATCC 12868 biofilm formed on the surface of SSCs immersed in M9 MSM with 0, 1, 3, and 5% sucrose and subsequently exposed to various RHs, populations were significantly different among the various RHs and sucrose concentrations, and EPS production was significantly higher (4.69 mg/L) compared to other sucrose concentrations (0%:0.71 mg/L and 1%:0.98 mg/L), except for M9 MSM with 3% sucrose (2.97 mg/L) (P ≤ 0.05). From these results, biofilm formation and EPS production by C. sakazakii differed depending on the nutrient or environmental conditions provided to the cells.

Concepts: Electron, Glucose, Biofilm, Relative humidity, Scanning electron microscope, Disaccharide, Exopolysaccharide, Extracellular polymeric substance


Depuration under different salinities was used to reduce the human pathogen Vibrio vulnificus from Eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica). Individual recirculating systems were used to test the efficacy of depuration at three salinities (15, 25, and 35 psu) in four independent trials during a 14 day period. Initial loads of V. vulnificus were higher than 10,000 MPN/g of oyster meat in all trials. Data showed that 25 and 35 psu treatments were more efficient in reducing V. vulnificus numbers than 15 psu with an overall reduction of >3 logs. A significant decrease in MPN/g was observed as early as day 6 and further reductions were observed at day 10, while longer depurations did not improve efficacy. Only the highest salinity (35 psu) was capable of reducing V. vulnificus numbers to the FDA recommended level of <30 MPN/g in two of the four trials. Oysters survived well in the depuration systems with minimal mortality (<1%) but their condition index (meat quality and yield) decreased during the 14 day period in all treatments. The data presented in this study suggests that high salinity depuration is a promising method to reduce V. vulnificus in oysters.

Concepts: Ostreidae, Oyster, Eastern oyster, Perkinsus marinus, Oyster farming


Tetrazolium salts (TTZ), such as tetrazolium violet (TV), have been widely used for microbiological studies. The formation of the colored formazan product due to bacterial reduction of the uncolored reagent is extensively exploited to stain cells or colonies in agar or on filters. But an important toxic effect of tetrazolium salts on bacteria exists that limits their use at high concentrations, impairing the efficient staining of the colonies. This is especially the case for Salmonella spp. where we observed, using a classic photometric approach and mathematical modeling of the growth, an important impact of tetrazolium violet on the apparent growth rate below the inhibitory concentration. In this study, we demonstrate that adding magnesium to the medium in the presence of TV leads to a significant increase in the apparent growth rate. Moreover, when higher TV concentrations are used which lead to total inhibition of Salmonella strains, magnesium addition to the culture media allows growth and TV reduction. This effect of magnesium may allow the use of higher TTZ concentrations in liquid growth media and enhance bacteria detection capabilities.

Concepts: Bacteria, Microbiology, Yeast, Agar, Agar plate, Growth medium, Formazan, Neutral red


A total of 109 lactic acid bacteria isolated from infant faeces were identified by partial 16S rRNA, cpn60 and/or pheS sequencing. Lactobacillus was the most prevalent genus, representing 48% of the isolates followed by Enterococcus (38%). Lactobacillus gasseri (21%) and Enterococcus faecalis (38%) were the main species detected. A further selection of potential probiotic starter cultures for fermented sausages focused on Lactobacillus as the most technologically relevant genus in this type of product. Lactobacilli strains were evaluated for their ability to grow in vitro in the processing conditions of fermented sausages and for their functional and safety properties, including antagonistic activity against foodborne pathogens, survival from gastrointestinal tract conditions (acidity, bile and pancreatin), tyramine production, antibiotic susceptibility and aggregation capacity. The best strains according to the results obtained were Lactobacillus casei/paracasei CTC1677, L. casei/paracasei CTC1678, Lactobacillus rhamnosus CTC1679, L. gasseri CTC1700, L. gasseri CTC1704, Lactobacillus fermentum CTC1693. Those strains were further assayed as starter cultures in model sausages. L. casei/paracasei CTC1677, L. casei/paracasei CTC1678 and L. rhamnosus CTC1679 were able to lead the fermentation and dominate (levels ca. 10(8) CFU/g) the endogenous lactic acid bacteria, confirming their suitability as probiotic starter cultures.

Concepts: Bacteria, Gut flora, Metabolism, Microbiology, Lactic acid, Lactobacillus, Fermentation, Lactic acid bacteria