Quantification of the Effects of Salt Stress and Physiological State on Thermotolerance of Bacillus cereus ATCC 10987 and ATCC 14579

H.M.W. den Besten, M. Mataragas, R. Moezelaar, T. Abee, M.H. Zwietering

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The food-borne pathogen Bacillus cereus can acquire enhanced thermal resistance through multiple mechanisms. Two Bacillus cereus strains, ATCC 10987 and ATCC 14579, were used to quantify the effects of salt stress and physiological state on thermotolerance. Cultures were exposed to increasing concentrations of sodium chloride for 30 min, after which their thermotolerance was assessed at 50°C. Linear and nonlinear microbial survival models, which cover a wide range of known inactivation curvatures for vegetative cells, were fitted to the inactivation data and evaluated. Based on statistical indices and model characteristics, biphasic models with a shoulder were selected and used for quantification. Each model parameter reflected a survival characteristic, and both models were flexible, allowing a reduction of parameters when certain phenomena were not present. Both strains showed enhanced thermotolerance after preexposure to (non)lethal salt stress conditions in the exponential phase. The maximum adaptive stress response due to salt preexposure demonstrated for exponential-phase cells was comparable to the effect of physiological state on thermotolerance in both strains. However, the adaptive salt stress response was less pronounced for transition- and stationary-phase cells. The distinct tailing of strain ATCC 10987 was attributed to the presence of a subpopulation of spores. The existence of a stable heat-resistant subpopulation of vegetative cells could not be demonstrated for either of the strains. Quantification of the adaptive stress response might be instrumental in understanding adaptation mechanisms and will allow the food industry to develop more accurate and reliable stress-integrated predictive modeling to optimize minimal processing conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5884-5894
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • shock-induced thermotolerance
  • listeria-monocytogenes
  • heat-shock
  • thermal inactivation
  • bacterial-spores
  • survival curves
  • growth-phase
  • models
  • temperature
  • proteins

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