Transcriptomic approach and membrane fatty acid analysis to study the response mechanisms of Escherichia coli to thyme essential oil, carvacrol, 2-(E)-hexanal and citral exposure

Siroli L, Braschi G, De jong A, Kok J, Patrignani F, Lanciotti R
Journal of Applied Microbiology, 2018


ABSTRACT:

AIMS: The application of essential oils (EOs) and their components as food preservatives is promising but requires a deeper understanding of their mechanisms of action. This study aims to evaluate the effects of thyme EO, carvacrol, citral and 2-(E)-hexenal, on whole-genome gene expression (the transcriptome), as well as the fatty acid (FA) composition of the cell membranes of Escherichia coli K12.

METHODS AND RESULTS: Therefore, we studied the response against 1 h of exposure to sublethal concentrations of natural antimicrobials, of exponentially growing E. coli K12, using DNA microarray technology and a gas chromatographic method. The results show that treatment with a sublethal concentration of the antimicrobials strongly affects global gene expression in E. coli for all antimicrobials used. Major changes in the expression of genes involved in metabolic pathways as well as in FA biosynthesis and protection against oxidative stress were evidenced. Moreover, the sublethal treatments resulted in increased levels of unsaturated and cyclic FAs as well as an increase in the chain length compared to the controls.

CONCLUSIONS: The down-regulation of genes involved in aerobic metabolism indicates a shift from respiration to fermentative growth. Moreover, the results obtained suggest that the cytoplasmic membrane of E. coli is the major cellular target of EOs and their components. In addition, the key role of membrane unsaturated FAs in the response mechanisms of E. coli to natural antimicrobials has been confirmed in this study.

SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY: The transcriptomic data obtained signify a further step to understand the mechanisms of action of natural antimicrobials also when sublethal concentrations and short-term exposure. In addition, this research goes in deep correlating the transcriptomic modification with the changes in E. coli FA composition of cell membrane identified as the main target of the natural antimicrobials.

CITATION:

Siroli L, Braschi G, De jong A, Kok J, Patrignani F, Lanciotti R. Transcriptomic approach and membrane fatty acid analysis to study the response mechanisms of Escherichia coli to thyme essential oil, carvacrol, 2-(E)-hexanal and citral exposure. J Appl Microbiol. 2018;125(5):1308-1320.


 
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