Enhanced recovery of Salmonella Typhimurium DT104 from exposure to stress at low temperature

Suzanne Humphrey, Leann F. Clark, Tom J. Humphrey, Mark A. Jepson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium (S. Typhimurium) remains an important cause of foodborne infection in the developed world. In order to establish infection within a host, Salmonella must survive and recover from a range of environmental stresses. S. Typhimurium strain SL1344 is among the most extensively studied pathogenic Salmonella strains, while S. Typhimurium phage type DT104 is an important type that has been associated with pandemic spread and a high number of food-borne disease outbreaks over the last two decades. In this study, we have compared the abilities of these two S. Typhimurium types to recover from stress exposures commonly encountered in food production, including 685 mM NaCl, pH 3.8, low temperature (6 °C) and combinations thereof. Following removal from prolonged (8 days) stress, DT104 cultures that had been exposed to low temperature, with or without additional stress, resumed exponential growth more rapidly than SL1344 cultures exposed to the same conditions. SL1344 showed higher levels of filamentation than DT104 in response to NaCl exposure at low temperature. Further, SL1344 incurred higher levels of membrane damage in response to elevated NaCl and pH 3.8 at both temperatures compared with DT104. However, both strains recovered normal cell division and membrane integrity within 6 h when all stresses were removed. Expression of the Salmonella pathogenicity island 1 gene prgH, the first gene in the prg/org operon, was monitored using a chromosomal reporter in which gfp+ expression was driven by the prgH promoter. Recovery of prgH expression was comparable for SL1344 and DT104 exposed to stress at 22 °C. However, DT104 cultures exposed to pH 3.8 or combined NaCl and low-pH stress at low temperature resumed prgH expression more rapidly than SL1344. Both strains recovered maximal levels of prgH expression after 6 h recovery from all stresses and, interestingly, maximal levels of prgH expression were significantly higher in SL1344, consistent with prgH expression in late-exponential, non-stressed SL1344 and DT104 cultures. Together, these data show that S. Typhimurium is capable of rapid recovery from environmental and food-related stresses, and give insight into the enhanced ability of DT104 compared with SL1344 to adapt to such stresses, which may contribute to the success of this globally disseminated pathogenic phage type.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1103-1114
Number of pages12
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2011


  • Salmonella enterica
  • Typhimurium
  • food-borne infection
  • prgH


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