Acid-adapted Listeria monocytogenes displays enhanced tolerance against the lantibiotics nisin and lacticin 3147

J Food Prot. 1999 May;62(5):536-9. doi: 10.4315/0362-028x-62.5.536.


Log-phase Listeria monocytogenes cells become tolerant to a variety of environmental stresses following acid adaptation at pH 5.5. We demonstrated that adapted cells also exhibit increased tolerance to nisin and, to a lesser extent, lacticin 3147. At nisin concentrations of 100 and 200 IU/ml the survival of acid-adapted cells was approximately 10-fold greater than nonadapted cells. However, acid adaptation had only a moderate effect on the tolerance of L. monocytogenes to lacticin 3147, a phenomenon that possibly reflects the distinct mode of action of this bacteriocin. Analysis of the fatty acid composition of the bacterial membrane indicated that straight-chain fatty acids C14:0 and C16:0 were significantly increased in acid-adapted cells while levels of C18:0 decreased. The results indicate that stress mechanisms that are induced in mildly acidic conditions provide protection against the antimicrobial action of bacteriocins. This increased resistance of acid-adapted L. monocytogenes could cause increased survival of this pathogen in food products in which nisin or other bacteriocins are used as preservatives.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Bacterial Proteins / pharmacology
  • Bacteriocins*
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial
  • Fatty Acids / analysis
  • Food Preservatives / pharmacology*
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Listeria monocytogenes / chemistry
  • Listeria monocytogenes / drug effects*
  • Listeria monocytogenes / physiology
  • Nisin / pharmacology*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Bacteriocins
  • Fatty Acids
  • Food Preservatives
  • lacticin 481
  • Nisin