Assessment of heat resistance of bacterial spores from food product isolates by fluorescence monitoring of dipicolinic acid release

Remco Kort, Andrea C O'Brien, Ivo H M van Stokkum, Suus J C M Oomes, Wim Crielaard, Klaas J Hellingwerf, Stanley Brul

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This study is aimed at the development and application of a convenient and rapid optical assay to monitor the wet-heat resistance of bacterial endospores occurring in food samples. We tested the feasibility of measuring the release of the abundant spore component dipicolinic acid (DPA) as a probe for heat inactivation. Spores were isolated from the laboratory type strain Bacillus subtilis 168 and from two food product isolates, Bacillus subtilis A163 and Bacillus sporothermodurans IC4. Spores from the lab strain appeared much less heat resistant than those from the two food product isolates. The decimal reduction times (D values) for spores from strains 168, A163, and IC4 recovered on Trypticase soy agar were 1.4, 0.7, and 0.3 min at 105 degrees C, 120 degrees C, and 131 degrees C, respectively. The estimated Z values were 6.3 degrees C, 6.1 degrees C, and 9.7 degrees C, respectively. The extent of DPA release from the three spore crops was monitored as a function of incubation time and temperature. DPA concentrations were determined by measuring the emission at 545 nm of the fluorescent terbium-DPA complex in a microtiter plate fluorometer. We defined spore heat resistance as the critical DPA release temperature (Tc), the temperature at which half the DPA content has been released within a fixed incubation time. We found Tc values for spores from Bacillus strains 168, A163, and IC4 of 108 degrees C, 121 degrees C, and 131 degrees C, respectively. On the basis of these observations, we developed a quantitative model that describes the time and temperature dependence of the experimentally determined extent of DPA release and spore inactivation. The model predicts a DPA release rate profile for each inactivated spore. In addition, it uncovers remarkable differences in the values for the temperature dependence parameters for the rate of spore inactivation, DPA release duration, and DPA release delay.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3556-64
Number of pages9
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2005


  • Bacillus
  • Bacillus subtilis
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Fluorescence
  • Food Preservation
  • Hot Temperature
  • Kinetics
  • Models, Biological
  • Picolinic Acids
  • Spores, Bacterial
  • Evaluation Studies
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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