Applied and Environmental Microbiology vol:71 issue:3 pages:1155-1162
Since high hydrostatic pressure is becoming increasingly important in modern food preservation, its potential effects on microorganisms need to be thoroughly investigated. In this context, mild pressures (< 200 MPa) have recently been shown to induce an SOS response in Escherichia coli MG1655. Due to this response, we observed a RecA- and LexA-dependent induction of lambda prophage upon treating E. coli lysogens with sublethal pressures. In this report, we extend this observation to lambdoid Shiga toxin (Stx)-converting bacteriophages in MG1655, which constitute an important virulence trait in Stx-producing E. coli strains (STEC). The window of pressures capable of inducing Stx phages correlated well with the window of bacterial survival. When pressure treatments were conducted in whole milk, which is known to promote bacterial survival, Stx phage induction could be observed at up to 250 MPa in E. coli MG1655 and at up to 300 MPa in a pressure-resistant mutant of this strain. In addition, we found that the intrinsic pressure resistance of two types of Stx phages was very different, with one type surviving relatively well treatments of up to 400 MPa for 15 min at 20 degrees C. Interestingly, and in contrast to UV irradiation or mitomycin C treatment, pressure was not able to induce Stx prophage or an SOS response in several natural Stx-producing STEC isolates.