Identification of quinone degradation as a triggering event for intense pulsed light-elicited metabolic changes in escherichia coli by metabolomic fingerprinting

Qingqing Mao, Juer Liu, Justin R. Wiertzema, Dongjie Chen, Paul Chen, David J. Baumler, Roger Ruan, Chi Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Intense pulsed light (IPL) is becoming a new technical platform for disinfecting food against pathogenic bacteria. Metabolic changes are deemed to occur in bacteria as either the causes or the consequences of IPL-elicited bactericidal and bacteriostatic effects. However, little is known about the influences of IPL on bacterial metabolome. In this study, the IPL treatment was applied to E. coli K-12 for 0–20 s, leading to time-and dose-dependent reductions in colony-forming units (CFU) and morphological changes. Both membrane lipids and cytoplasmic metabolites of the control and IPL-treated E. coli were examined by the liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry (LC-MS)-based metabolomic fingerprinting. The results from multivariate modeling and marker identification indicate that the metabolites in electron transport chain (ETC), redox response, glycolysis, amino acid, and nucleotide metabolism were selectively affected by the IPL treatments. The time courses and scales of these metabolic changes, together with the biochemical connections among them, revealed a cascade of events that might be initiated by the degradation of quinone electron carriers and then followed by oxidative stress, disruption of intermediary metabolism, nucleotide degradation, and morphological changes. Therefore, the degradations of membrane quinones, especially the rapid depletion of menaquinone-8 (MK-8), can be considered as a triggering event in the IPL-elicited metabolic changes in E. coli.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This research was supported by the Enhancing Food Safety through Improved Processing Technologies Program (Grant No. 2016-68003-24850) from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). C.C. was partially supported by the NIFA project MIN-18-125.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Bacterial metabolome
  • Escherichia coli
  • Intense pulsed light
  • Intermediary metabolism
  • Membrane quinones
  • Oxidative stress

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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