Pre-harvest factors influencing the acid resistance of Escherichia coli and E. coli O157:H7

C. J. Fu, J. H. Porter, E. E.D. Felton, J. W. Lehmkuhler, M. S. Kerley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The effects of pH, acetate, propionate, or butyrate concentration, and diet on acid resistance of fecal Escherichia coli and E. coli O157:H7 were determined by in vitro and in vivo experiments. The pH tested was from 4.0 to 8.0, and the VFA concentrations tested were O to 100 mM. The E. coli O157:H7 used was strain 505B. In an in vivo study, cattle were fed a grain-based diet, then either not switched or switched to a grain-based diet with 3% added calcium carbonate or two fiber-based diets (soybean hulls or hay). Acid resistance was expressed as viability after acid-shock at pH 2.0 for 1 h and 4 h for fecal E. coli and E. coli O157:H7, respectively. Enumeration methods used were multitube fermentation, agar plate, and petri-film methods. The E. coli O157:H7 was not found in continuous culture inocula or in vivo samples. The viability of fecal E. coli decreased linearly (P < 0.01) as the culture pH increased, and viability of E. coli O157:H7 was highest (P < 0.01) when cultivated at pH 6.0. The viability of fecal E. coli and E. coli O157:H7 showed quadratic responses (P < 0.05) as acetate and butyrate concentrations increased at pH 7.2, with maximal acid resistance at 20 and 12 mM, respectively. As propionate concentration increased, the acid resistance was not different (P > 0.05) for fecal E. coli. Acid resistance of E. coli was induced by acetate and butyrate, even though the environmental pH was near neutral. Similar results were measured in the in vivo study, where viability after acid shock was more dependent on VFA concentration than on pH. Increasing the dietary calcium carbonate concentration also increased (P < 0.05) acid resistance of fecal E. coli. Results from these studies demonstrated that culture pH and VFA affect acid resistance of E. coli.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1080-1087
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2003


  • Diet
  • Escherichia coli
  • Resistance
  • Volatile Fatty Acids
  • pH

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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