, Volume 33, Issue 6, pp 1217-1225
Date: 01 May 2007

The Effects of a Naturally Produced Benzoquinone on Microbes Common to Flour

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Many species of insects are known to produce and secrete benzoquinone derivatives. These compounds are usually defined as “defense chemicals.” However, in many cases, it has not been determined what the chemicals are meant to defend against. Tribolium beetles produce up to three benzoquinones, but their specific function is not known. In this experiment, one of the derivatives, methyl-1,4-benzoquinone (MBQ) was tested for its effectiveness for one of its purported functions as an antimicrobial. Methyl-1,4-benzoquinone was added in three concentrations (0.3, 30, and 150 μg/ml) to the liquid media of three species of Bacillus bacteria and eight species from four genera of yeasts, and the effect on their growth was monitored. The presence of MBQ altered growth in all species. The bacteria responded more negatively than the yeasts. All bacteria species showed reduced growth at all levels of MBQ. Yeasts were more tolerant to the presence of the chemical, and two species, Saccharomyces microellipsoides and Pichia burtonii, actually showed increased growth at the lowest level of MBQ.