Comparative transcriptomic and phenotypic analysis of the responses of Bacillus cereus to various disinfectant treatments

M. Ceragioli, J.M. Mols, R. Moezelaar, E. Ghelardi, S. Senesi, T. Abee

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83 Citations (Scopus)


Antimicrobial chemicals are widely applied to clean and disinfect food-contacting surfaces. However, the cellular response of bacteria to various disinfectants is unclear. In this study, the physiological and genome-wide transcriptional responses of Bacillus cereus ATCC 14579 exposed to four different disinfectants (benzalkonium chloride, sodium hypochlorite, hydrogen peroxide, and peracetic acid) were analyzed. For each disinfectant, concentrations leading to the attenuation of growth, growth arrest, and cell death were determined. The transcriptome analysis revealed that B. cereus, upon exposure to the selected concentrations of disinfectants, induced common and specific responses. Notably, the common response included genes involved in the general and oxidative stress responses. Exposure to benzalkonium chloride, a disinfectant known to induce membrane damage, specifically induced genes involved in fatty acid metabolism. Membrane damage induced by benzalkonium chloride was confirmed by fluorescence microscopy, and fatty acid analysis revealed modulation of the fatty acid composition of the cell membrane. Exposure to sodium hypochlorite induced genes involved in metabolism of sulfur and sulfur-containing amino acids, which correlated with the excessive oxidation of sulfhydryl groups observed in sodium hypochlorite-stressed cells. Exposures to hydrogen peroxide and peracetic acid induced highly similar responses, including the upregulation of genes involved in DNA damage repair and SOS response. Notably, hydrogen peroxide- and peracetic acid-treated cells exhibited high mutation rates correlating with the induced SOS response
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3352-3360
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • gram-positive bacteria
  • escherichia-coli
  • hydrogen-peroxide
  • staphylococcus-aureus
  • stress-response
  • pseudomonas-aeruginosa
  • hypochlorous acid
  • peracetic-acid
  • dna-damage
  • antimicrobial resistance


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