We previously showed that modeled microgravity conditions alter the physiological characteristics of Escherichia coli O157:H7. To examine how microgravity conditions affect bacterial heat stress responses, D values, membrane fatty acid composition, and heat stress-related gene expression (clpB, dnaK, grpE, groES, htpG, htpX, ibpB, and rpoH), E. coli O157:H7 ATCC 35150, ATCC 43889, ATCC 43890, and ATCC 43895 were cultured under two different conditions: low-shear modeled microgravity (LSMMG, an analog of spaceflight conditions) and normal gravity (NG, Earth-like conditions). When 24-h cultures were heated to 55°C, cells cultured under LSMMG conditions showed reduced survival compared with cells cultured under NG conditions at all time points (P < 0.05). D values of all tested strains were lower after LSMMG culture than after NG culture. Fourteen of 37 fatty acids examined were present in the bacterial membrane: nine saturated fatty acids (SFA) and five unsaturated fatty acids (USFA). The USFA/SFA ratio, a measure of membrane fluidity, was higher under LSMMG conditions than under NG conditions. Compared with control cells grown under NG conditions, cells cultured under LSMMG conditions showed downregulation of eight heat stress-related genes (average,-1.9-to-3.7-fold). The results of this study indicate that in a simulated space environment, heat resistance of E. coli O157:H7 decreased, and this might be due to the synergistic effects of the increases in membrane fluidity and downregulated relevant heat stress genes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Science
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology