Category Archives: Biofilm

Research – Effect of Atmospheric Pressure Plasma on Listeria monocytogenes Attached to Abiotic Surfaces

Journal of Food Protection

Listeria monocytogenes can be introduced into food processing plants via raw material of animal or plant origin and can establish endemic populations through formation of biofilms. Biofilms are a continuous source of contamination for food products, and L. monocytogenes cells in biofilms are more resistant to stress and sanitizing agents than are planktonic cells. The use of gas-discharge plasmas may offer a feasible alternative to conventional sanitization methods. Plasmas are a mixture of charged particles, chemically reactive species, and UV radiation and can be used to destroy microorganisms. The purpose of this study was to measure the effectiveness of cold atmospheric pressure plasma (APP) treatments against bacteria attached to a solid surface and to evaluate the individual susceptibility of various L. monocytogenes strains. Attention was focused on the state of the cells after treatment, combining detection by viable counts and quantitative PCR (qPCR). Most of the culturable cells were inactivated after APP treatment, but the qPCR assay targeting the 16S rRNA revealed the presence of injured cells or their entrance into the viable but nonculturable state. These results were at least partly confirmed by a resuscitation experiment. After APP treatment, L. monocytogenes cell suspensions were incubated in brain heart infusion broth; some cells grew in the medium and therefore had survived the treatment. An understanding of the effects of APP on L. monocytogenes can inform the development of sanitation programs incorporating APP for pathogen removal. Methods other than those based of the culturability of the cells should be used to monitor pathogens in food processing plants because cultivation alone may underestimate the actual microbial load.

Research – Biofilms and Meat Safety: A Mini-Review

Journal of Food Protection

Biofilms are surface-attached microbial communities with distinct properties, which have a tremendous impact on public health and food safety. In the meat industry, biofilms remain a serious concern because many foodborne pathogens can form biofilms in areas at meat plants that are difficult to sanitize properly, and biofilm cells are more tolerant to sanitization than their planktonic counterparts. Furthermore, nearly all biofilms in commercial environments consist of multiple species of microorganisms, and the complex interactions within the community significantly influence the architecture, activity, and sanitizer tolerance of the biofilm society. This review focuses on the effect of microbial coexistence on mixed biofilm formation with foodborne pathogens of major concern in the fresh meat industry and their resultant sanitizer tolerance. The factors that would affect biofilm cell transfer from contact surfaces to meat products, one of the most common transmission routes that could lead to product contamination, are discussed as well. Available results from recent studies relevant to the meat industry, implying the potential role of bacterial persistence and biofilm formation in meat contamination, are reviewed in response to the pressing need to understand the mechanisms that cause “high event period” contamination at commercial meat processing plants. A better understanding of these events would help the industry to enhance strategies to prevent contamination and improve meat safety.

Research – Capacity to adhere to and invade human epithelial cells, as related to the presence of virulence genes in, motility of, and biofilm formation of Campylobacter jejuni strains isolated from chicken and cattle

NRC Research Press

Campylobacter jejuni is a zoonotic pathogen transmitted through the “farm to fork” route. Outbreaks are generally associated with the consumption of chicken meat; however, dairy cows, birds, wild and domestic food animals, and pets are other important sources. Currently, there are not enough data comparing the virulence of strains isolated from these reservoirs. In this study, we compared C. jejuni strains isolated from broiler chickens and dairy cattle by determining their ability to adhere to and invade in vitro human colonic epithelial cells in the T84 cell line with their motility, formation of biofilms, and presence of eight virulence genes. A Wilcoxon Rank Sum test was performed to establish the relationship between presence of the studied genes and cellular invasion and adhesion, as well as differences between the animal species of origin of the isolate. A Spearman correlation was performed to assess the relationship between invasion and motility, along with invasion and biofilm generation. The virB11 gene was positively associated with the adherence capacity of the strains (mean difference = 0.21, p = 0.006), and strains isolated from chickens showed a significant difference for adherence compared with strains isolated from cattle (p = 0.0001). Our results indicate that strains of C. jejuni have a difference in their adherence capacity depending on the animal reservoir from which they came, with chicken isolates displaying higher virulence than dairy cattle isolates.

Research – Behavior of foodborne pathogens, Listeria monocytogenes and Staphylococcus aureus, in mixed-species biofilm exposed to biocides


In nature and man-made environments, microorganisms reside in mixed-species biofilm where behavior is modified compared to the single-species biofilms. Pathogenic microorganisms may be protected against adverse treatments in mixed-species biofilms leading to health risk for humans. Here, we developed two mixed-five-species biofilms that included the foodborne pathogens Listeria monocytogenes or Staphylococcus aureus, respectively. The five species, including the pathogen, were isolated from a single food-processing environmental sample thus mimicking the environmental community. In mature mixed five-species biofilms on stainless steel, the two pathogens remained at a constant level of ∼105 CFU/cm2 The mixed-five-species biofilms as well as the pathogens in mono-species biofilms were exposed to biocides to determine any pathogen-protective effect of the mixed biofilm. Both pathogens and their associate microbial communities were reduced by peracetic acid treatments. S. aureus decreased 4.6 log cycles in mono-species biofilm, but the pathogen was protected in the five-species biofilm and decreased only 1.1 log cycles. Sessile cells of L. monocytogenes were affected equally as a mono-biofilm or as a member in the mixed-species biofilm; decreasing by three log cycles when exposed to 0.0375 % peracetic acid. When the pathogen was exchanged in each associate microbial community, S. aureus was eradicated while there was no significant effect of the biocide on L. monocytogenes or the mixed community. This indicates that particular members or associations in the community offered the protective effect. Further studies are needed to clarify the mechanisms of biocide protection, and the species playing the protective role in microbial communities of biofilms. Importance: This study demonstrates that foodborne pathogens can be established in mixed species biofilms and that this can protect them from biocide action. The protection is not due to specific characteristics of the pathogen, here S. aureus and L. monocytogenes, but likely caused by specific members or associations in the mixed species biofilm. Biocide treatment and resistance is a challenge for many industries and biocide efficacy should be tested on microorganisms growing in biofilms, preferably mixed systems, mimicking the application environment.

Research – Cinnamaldehyde disrupts biofilm formation and swarming motility of Pseudomonas aeruginosa

Microbiology Research

Bacterial biofilms can cause serious health care complications associated with increased morbidity and mortality. There is an urge to discover and develop new biofilm inhibitors from natural products or by modifying natural compounds or understanding the modes of action of existing compounds. Cinnamaldehyde (CAD), one of the major components of cinnamon oil, has been demonstrated to act as an antimicrobial agent against a number of Gram-negative and Gram-positive pathogens, including Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Helicobacter pylori and Listeria monocytogenes. Despite the mechanism of action of CAD against the model organism P. aeruginosa being undefined, based on its antimicrobial properties, we hypothesized that it may disrupt preformed biofilms of P. aeruginosa. The minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) of CAD for planktonic P. aeruginosa was determined to be 11.8 mM. Membrane depolarization assays demonstrated disruption of the transmembrane potential of P. aeruginosa. CAD at 5.9 mM (0.5 MIC) disrupted preformed biofilms by 75.6 % and 3 mM CAD (0.25 MIC) reduced the intracellular concentrations of the secondary messenger, bis-(3′–5′)-cyclic dimeric guanosine monophosphate (c-di-GMP), which controls P. aeruginosa biofilm formation. The swarming motility of P. aeruginosa was also reduced by CAD in a concentration-dependent manner. Collectively, these findings show that sub-MICs of CAD can disrupt biofilms and other surface colonization phenotypes through the modulation of intracellular signalling processes.

Research – Insights into Bacterial Milk Spoilage with Particular Emphasis on the Roles of Heat-Stable Enzymes, Biofilms, and Quorum Sensing

Journal of Food Protection Raw Milk Food Safety KSW Foodworld

Milk spoilage caused by psychrotrophic bacteria and their heat-stable enzymes is a serious challenge for the dairy industry. In many studies, spoilage has been explored based on the simplistic view of undesirable enzymes produced by planktonic cells. Recently, biofilms and quorum sensing (QS) have been suggested as important factors in the deterioration of milk, which opens new avenues for investigation of the processes and challenges. Production and heat stability of enzymes are enhanced in biofilms, mainly because of inherent differences in physiological states and protective shielding by extracellular polymeric substances. QS plays a key role in modulating expression of hydrolytic enzymes and biofilm formation. To date, few studies have been conducted to investigate the complex interplays of enzyme production, biofilm formation, and QS. This review provides novel insights into milk spoilage with particular emphasis on the roles of biofilms and QS and summarizes potential effective strategies for controlling the spoilage of milk.

Research – A Comparative Study of the Susceptibility of Listeria Species to Sanitizer Treatments When Grown under Planktonic and Biofilm Conditions

Journal of Food Protection

Listeria species are ubiquitous in nature and can adapt to survive in a variety of niches, including food processing environments. Listeria species that colonize these environments may also have the potential to persist. Food safety strategies designed to manage these niches include regular cleaning and disinfection with proven sanitizers containing biocide-active compounds. Typically, these sanitizers are effective against bacteria growing under planktonic conditions, but their efficacy may be compromised when bacteria are contained in biofilms. The susceptibility of persistent Listeria isolates, i.e., those capable of forming biofilms, to a selection of sanitizers was investigated. A quaternary ammonium compound–based sanitizer was the biocide most effective against planktonic bacteria, with a MIC of 0.0015 to 0.006%. In contrast, ethanol-based sanitizers were the least effective. Although, no triclosan tolerance was observed for planktonic Listeria isolates, triclosan was the only biocide that resulted in a significant biomass reduction. Differences between Listeria species were observed; L. monocytogenes and L. welshimeri biofilms were more tolerant to quaternary ammonium compound–based sanitizers than were L. innocua biofilms. These findings extend our understanding of the application of commonly used sanitizers in the food industry and the efficacy of these sanitizers against Listeria species and their associated biofilms.