The Molecular Weaponry Produced by the Bacterium Hafnia alvei in Foods

Molecules. 2022 Aug 30;27(17):5585. doi: 10.3390/molecules27175585.


Hafnia alvei is receiving increasing attention from both a medical and veterinary point of view, but the diversity of molecules it produces has made the interest in this bacterium extend to the field of probiotics, the microbiota, and above all, to its presence and action on consumer foods. The production of Acyl Homoserine Lactones (AHLs), a type of quorum-sensing (QS) signaling molecule, is the most often-studied chemical signaling molecule in Gram-negative bacteria. H. alvei can use this communication mechanism to promote the expression of certain enzymatic activities in fermented foods, where this bacterium is frequently present. H. alvei also produces a series of molecules involved in the modification of the organoleptic properties of different products, especially cheeses, where it shares space with other microorganisms. Although some strains of this species are implicated in infections in humans, many produce antibacterial compounds, such as bacteriocins, that inhibit the growth of true pathogens, so the characterization of these molecules could be very interesting from the point of view of clinical medicine and the food industry. Lastly, in some cases, H. alvei is responsible for the production of biogenic amines or other compounds of special interest in food health. In this article, we will review the most interesting molecules that produce the H. alvei strains and will discuss some of their properties, both from the point of view of their biological activity on other microorganisms and the properties of different food matrices in which this bacterium usually thrives.

Keywords: Hafnia alvei; biopreservation; foodborne pathogens; probiotics; quorum-sensing.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acyl-Butyrolactones
  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • Cheese*
  • Hafnia alvei* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Quorum Sensing


  • Acyl-Butyrolactones