The synergistic antimicrobial effects of phytic acid (PA), a natural extract from rice bran, plus sodium chloride against Escherichia coli O157:H7 were examined. Exposure to NaCl alone at concentrations up to 36% (wt/wt) for 5 min did not reduce bacterial populations. The bactericidal effects of PA alone were much greater than those of other organic acids (acetic, citric, lactic, and malic acids) under the same experimental conditions (P<0.05). Combining PA and NaCl under conditions that yielded negligible effects when each was used alone led to marked synergistic effects. For example, whereas 0.4% PA or 3 or 4% NaCl alone had little or no effect on cell viability, combining the two completely inactivated both nonadapted and acid-adapted cells, reducing their numbers to unrecoverable levels (>7-log CFU/ml reduction). Flow cytometry confirmed that PA disrupted the cell membrane to a greater extent than did other organic acids, although the cells remained viable. The combination of PA and NaCl induced complete disintegration of the cell membrane. By comparison, none of the other organic acids acted synergistically with NaCl, and neither did NaCl-HCl solutions at the same pH values as the test solutions of PA plus NaCl. These results suggest that PA has great potential as an effective bacterial membrane-permeabilizing agent, and we show that the combination is a promising alternative to conventional chemical disinfectants. These findings provide new insight into the utility of natural compounds as novel antimicrobial agents and increase our understanding of the mechanisms underlying the antibacterial activity of PA.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Science
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology