Department of Biological Sciences, Plattsburgh State University of New York, NY, USA
Ozone exposure rapidly leads to bacterial death, making ozone an effective disinfectant in food industry and health care arena. However, microbial defenses may moderate this effect and play a role in the effective use of oxidizing agents for disinfection. Serratia marcescens is an opportunistic pathogen, expressing genes differentially during infection of a human host. A better understanding of regulatory systems that control expression of Serratia’s virulence genes and defenses is therefore valuable.
Here, we investigated the role of pigmentation and catalase in Serratia marcescens on survival to ozone exposure.
Pigmented and non-pigmented strains of Serratia marcescens were cultured to exponential or stationary phase and exposed to 5 ppm of gaseous ozone for 2.5 – 10 minutes. Survival was calculated via plate counts. Catalase activity was measured photometrically and tolerance to hydrogen peroxide was assayed by disk-diffusion.
Exposure of S. marcescens to 5 ppm gaseous ozone kills > 90% of cells within 10 minutes in a time and concentration-dependent manner. Although pigmented Serratia (grown at 28°C) survived ozonation better than unpigmented Serratia (grown at 35°C), non-pigmented mutant strains of Serratia had similar ozone survival rates, catalase activity and H2O2 tolerance as wild type strains. Rather, ozone survival and catalase activity were elevated in 6 hour cultures compared to 48 hour cultures.
Our studies did not bear out a role for prodigiosin in ozone survival. Rather, induction of oxidative stress responses during exponential growth increased both catalase activity and ozone survival in both pigmented and unpigmented S. marcescens.
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