, Volume 48, Issue 6, pp 731-735

Susceptibility ofEscherichia coli to C2-C18 fatty acids

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The antimicrobial activity of C2–C18 fatty acids was determinedin vitro in cultures of two strains ofEscherichia coli grown on glucose. Antimicrobial activity was expressed as IC50 (a concentration at which only 50 % of the initial glucose in the cultures was utilized). Utilization of glucose was inhibited by caprylic acid (IC50 0.30–0.85 g/L) and capric acid (IC50 1.25–2.03 g/L). Neither short-chain fatty acids (C2–C6) nor fatty acids with longer chain (C12–C18) influenced substrate utilization. Caproic acid, however, decreased cell yield in cultures ofE. coli in a dose-dependent manner. No inhibition of glucose utilization was produced with unsaturated fatty acids, oleic and linoleic. Calcium ions added in excess reversed the antimicrobial effect of capric acid, but not that of caprylic acid. Antimicrobial activity of caprylic and capric acid decreased when the bacteria were grown in the presence of straw particles, or repeatedly subcultured in a medium containing these compounds at low concentrations. Counts of viable bacteria determined by plating decreased after incubation with caprylic and capric acid (30 min; 1 g/L) at pH 5.2 from >109 to ≈102/mL. A reduction of a mere 0.94–1.96 log10 CFU was observed at pH 6.5–6.6. It can be concluded that caprylic acid, and to a lesser extent also capric acid, has a significant antimicrobial activity towardE. coli. Effects of other fatty acids were not significant or absent.

This work was supported by grant no. QF3134 of theCzech National Agency for Agricultural Research (NAZV).