The weak acid preservative sorbic acid inhibits conidial germination and mycelial growth of Aspergillus niger through intracellular acidification

A. Plumridge, S.J.A. Hesse, A.J. Watson, K.C. Lowe, M. Stratford, D.B. Archer

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Abstract

The growth of the filamentous fungus Aspergillus niger, a common food spoilage organism, is inhibited by the weak acid preservative sorbic acid (trans-trans-2,4-hexadienoic acid). Conidia inoculated at 105/ml of medium showed a sorbic acid MIC of 4.5 mM at pH 4.0, whereas the MIC for the amount of mycelia at 24 h developed from the same spore inoculum was threefold lower. The MIC for conidia and, to a lesser extent, mycelia was shown to be dependent on the inoculum size. A. niger is capable of degrading sorbic acid, and this ability has consequences for food preservation strategies. The mechanism of action of sorbic acid was investigated using 31P nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. We show that a rapid decline in cytosolic pH (pHcyt) by more than 1 pH unit and a depression of vacuolar pH (pHvac) in A. niger occurs in the presence of sorbic acid. The pH gradient over the vacuole completely collapsed as a result of the decline in pHcyt. NMR spectra also revealed that sorbic acid (3.0 mM at pH 4.0) caused intracellular ATP pools and levels of sugar-phosphomonoesters and -phosphodiesters of A. niger mycelia to decrease dramatically, and they did not recover. The disruption of pH homeostasis by sorbic acid at concentrations below the MIC could account for the delay in spore germination and retardation of the onset of subsequent mycelial growth
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3506-3511
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Volume70
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2004

Keywords

  • membrane h+-atpase
  • nuclear magnetic-resonance
  • a-producing fungi
  • saccharomyces-cerevisiae
  • plasma-membrane
  • aqueous-solutions
  • carboxylic-acids
  • abc transporter
  • sulfur-dioxide
  • ph

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