Applied microbiology and biotechnology

Synergistic action of rapid chilling and nisin on the inactivation of Escherichia coli.

PMID 18317749


The effect of rapid and slow chilling on survival and nisin sensitivity was investigated in Escherichia coli. Membrane permeabilization induced by cold shock was assessed by uptake of the fluorescent dye 1-N-phenylnapthylamine. Slow chilling (2 degrees C min(-1)) did not induce transient susceptibility to nisin. Combining rapid chilling (2,000 degrees C min(-1)) and nisin causes a dose-dependent reduction in the population of cells in both exponential and stationary growth phases. A reduction of 6 log of exponentially growing cells was achieved with rapid chilling in the presence of 100 IU ml(-1) nisin. Cells were more sensitive if nisin was present during stress. Nevertheless, addition of nisin to cell suspension after the rapid chilling produced up to 5 log of cell inactivation for exponentially growing cells and 1 log for stationary growing cells. This suggests that the rapid chilling strongly damaged the cell membrane by disrupting the outer membrane barrier, allowing the sensitization of E. coli to nisin post-rapid chilling. Measurements of membrane permeabilization showed a good correlation between the membrane alteration and nisin sensitivity. Application involving the simultaneous treatment with nisin and rapid cold shock could thus be of value in controlling Gram negatives, enhancing microbiological safety and stability.