Microbial dynamics in mixed culture biofilms of bacteria surviving sanitation of conveyor belts in salmon-processing plants

J Appl Microbiol. 2016 Feb;120(2):366-78. doi: 10.1111/jam.13013.


Aims: The microbiota surviving sanitation of salmon-processing conveyor belts was identified and its growth dynamics further investigated in a model mimicking processing surfaces in such plants.

Methods and results: A diverse microbiota dominated by Gram-negative bacteria was isolated after regular sanitation in three salmon processing plants. A cocktail of 14 bacterial isolates representing all genera isolated from conveyor belts (Listeria, Pseudomonas, Stenotrophomonas, Brochothrix, Serratia, Acinetobacter, Rhodococcus and Chryseobacterium) formed stable biofilms on steel coupons (12°C, salmon broth) of about 10(9) CFU cm(-2) after 2 days. High-throughput sequencing showed that Listeria monocytogenes represented 0·1-0·01% of the biofilm population and that Pseudomonas spp dominated. Interestingly, both Brochothrix sp. and a Pseudomonas sp. dominated in the surrounding suspension.

Conclusions: The microbiota surviving sanitation is dominated by Pseudomonas spp. The background microbiota in biofilms inhibit, but do not eliminate L. monocytogenes.

Significance and impact of the study: The results highlights that sanitation procedures have to been improved in the salmon-processing industry, as high numbers of a diverse microbiota survived practical sanitation. High-throughput sequencing enables strain level studies of population dynamics in biofilm.

Keywords: Listeria; Pseudomonas; biofilm; disinfection; food processing; salmon; sanitation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / growth & development
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Biofilms* / growth & development
  • Food Handling / instrumentation*
  • Food Microbiology
  • Microbiota
  • Salmon / microbiology*
  • Sanitation
  • Seafood / microbiology*
  • Stainless Steel / analysis


  • Stainless Steel