Synergy between nisin and select lactates against Listeria monocytogenes is due to the metal cations

Jennifer Cleveland McEntire, Thomas J. Montville, Michael Chikindas

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Listeria monocytogenes, a major foodborne pathogen, has been responsible for many outbreaks and recalls. Organic acids and antimicrobial peptides (bacteriocins) such as nisin are produced by lactic acid bacteria and are commercially used to control pathogens in some foods. This study examined the effects of lactic acid (LA) and its salts in combination with a commercial nisin preparation on the growth of L. monocytogenes Scott A and its nisin-resistant mutant. Because of an increase in its activity at a lower pH, nisin was more active against L. monocytogenes when used in combination with LA. Most of the salts of LA, including potassium lactate, at up to 5% partially inhibited the growth of L. monocytogenes and had no synergy with nisin. Zinc and aluminum lactate, as well as zinc and aluminum chloride (0.1%), worked synergistically with 100 IU of nisin per ml to control the growth of L. monocytogenes Scott A. No synergy was observed when zinc or aluminum lactate was used with nisin against nisin-resistant L. monocytogenes. The nisin-resistant strain was more sensitive to Zn lactate than was wild-type L. monocytogenes Scott A; however, the cellular ATP levels of the nisin-resistant strain were not significantly affected. Changes in the intracellular ATP levels of the wild-type strain support our hypothesis that pretreatment with zinc lactate sensitizes cells to nisin. The similar effects of the salts of hydrochloric and lactic acids support the hypothesis that metal cations are responsible for synergy with nisin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1631-1636
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of food protection
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Microbiology

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