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Eager: Analysis Of The Role Of Mg2+ In Bacterial Heat Tolerance

Csonka, Laszlo
Purdue University
Start date
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Salmonella is the most prevalent causative agent of food-borne illness in the US. Because cooking is the most cost effective and common means of inactivating bacteria in foods, better understanding of the factors that control the heat tolerance of bacteria is crucial for promoting increased food safety. The Csonka laboratory at Purdue University recently discovered that mutations that increase the synthesis of magnesium (Mg2+) transport proteins greatly elevate the resistance of Salmonella to killing by high temperature. The objective of this research will be to determine whether the increased heat tolerance in these mutants is actually due to the increased accumulation of Mg2+. If results indicate that the mutations do increase the accumulation of Mg2+, then this would imply that the enhanced heat tolerance in the mutants is the consequence of increased concentrations of this nutrient. On the other hand, if results indicate that the mutants do not have increased Mg2+, this would imply that the increased heat tolerance is the consequence of some unknown function of the Mg2+ transport proteins. In either case, these experiments will lay the groundwork for subsequent research to pursue the question of why increased synthesis of Mg2+ transport proteins enhances thermotolerance. This work will contribute to the understanding of the factors that determine the heat tolerance of pathogenic food bacteria, providing important insights for more efficient elimination of pathogens from food products. The project will also provide training opportunities for future scientists from high school students to university undergraduate and graduate students.

Funding Source
United States Nat'l. Science Fndn.
Project number
Bacterial Pathogens
Natural Toxins
Viruses and Prions
Chemical Contaminants
Food Preparation and Handling