Browsing by Author "Constantin, Camelia"

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  • Constantin, Camelia (Helsingin yliopisto, 2008)
    B. cereus is one of the most frequent occurring bacteria in foods . It produces several heat-labile enterotoxins and one stable non-protein toxin, cereulide (emetic), which may be pre-formed in food. Cereulide is a heat stable peptide whose structure and mechanism of action were in the past decade elucidated. Until this work, the detection of cereulide was done by biological assays. With my mentors, I developed the first quantitative chemical assay for cereulide. The assay is based on liquid chromatography (HPLC) combined with ion trap mass spectrometry and the calibration is done with valinomycin and purified cereulide. To detect and quantitate valinomycin and cereulide, their [NH4+] adducts, m/z 1128.9 and m/z 1171 respectively, were used. This was a breakthrough in the cereulide research and became a very powerful tool of investigation. This tool made it possible to prove for the first time that the toxin produced by B. cereus in heat-treated food caused human illness. Until this thesis work (Paper II), cereulide producing B. cereus strains were believed to represent a homogenous group of clonal strains. The cereulide producing strains investigated in those studies originated mostly from food poisoning incidents. We used strains of many origins and analyzed them using a polyphasic approach. We found that the cereulide producing B. cereus strains are genetically and biologically more diverse than assumed in earlier studies. The strains diverge in the adenylate kinase (adk) gene (two sequence types), in ribopatterns obtained with EcoRI and PvuII (three patterns), tyrosin decomposition, haemolysis and lecithine hydrolysis (two phenotypes). Our study was the first demonstration of diversity within the cereulide producing strains of B. cereus. To manage the risk for cereulide production in food, understanding is needed on factors that may upregulate cereulide production in a given food matrix and the environmental factors affecting it. As a contribution towards this direction, we adjusted the growth environment and measured the cereulide production by strains selected for diversity. The temperature range where cereulide is produced was narrower than that for growth for most of the producer strains. Most cereulide was by most strains produced at room temperature (20 - 23ºC). Exceptions to this were two faecal isolates which produced the same amount of cereulide from 23 ºC up until 39ºC. We also found that at 37º C the choice of growth media for cereulide production differed from that at the room temperature. The food composition and temperature may thus be a key for understanding cereulide production in foods as well as in the gut. We investigated the contents of [K+], [Na+] and amino acids of six growth media. Statistical evaluation indicated a significant positive correlation between the ratio [K+]:[Na+] and the production of cereulide, but only when the concentrations of glycine and [Na+] were constant. Of the amino acids only glycine correlated positively with high cereulide production. Glycine is used worldwide as food additive (E 640), flavor modifier, humectant, acidity regulator, and is permitted in the European Union countries, with no regulatory quantitative limitation, in most types of foods. B. subtilis group members are endospore-forming bacteria ubiquitous in the environment, similar to B. cereus in this respect. Bacillus species other than B. cereus have only sporadically been identified as causative agents of food-borne illnesses. We found (Paper IV) that food-borne isolates of B. subtilis and B. mojavensis produced amylosin. It is possible that amylosin was the agent responsible for the food-borne illness, since no other toxic substance was found in the strains. This is the first report on amylosin production by strains isolated from food. We found that the temperature requirement for amylosin production was higher for the B. subtilis strain F 2564/96, a mesophilic producer, than for B. mojavensis strains eela 2293 and B 31, psychrotolerant producers. We also found that an atmosphere with low oxygen did not prevent the production of amylosin. Ready-to-eat foods packaged in micro-aerophilic atmosphere and/or stored at temperatures above 10 °C, may thus pose a risk when toxigenic strains of B. subtilis or B. mojavensis are present.