Campylobacter jejuni is a microaerophilic foodborne pathogen that is sensitive to stress conditions. However, it is not yet understood how this stress-sensitive pathogen may cause a significant number of cases of human gastroenteritis worldwide. In this study, we examined stress tolerance in 70 C. jejuni strains isolated from retail chicken under several stress conditions related to food safety. Compared to oxygen-sensitive (OS) strains of C. jejuni, C. jejuni strains with increased aerotolerance, such as hyper-aerotolerant (HAT) and aerotolerant (AT) strains, were more tolerant to peracetic acid, refrigeration and freeze-thaw stresses. However, the levels of thermotolerance and hyper-osmotolerance were not associated with the aerotolerance level of C. jejuni. The HAT and AT strains of C. jejuni exhibited significantly increased activities of catalase and superoxide dismutase (SOD), compared to the OS strains. Consistently, the HAT and AT strains were highly tolerant to oxidants, such as hydrogen peroxide, cumene hydroperoxide and menadione, compared to the OS strains. The AT and HAT strains that were tolerant to stresses, particularly peracetic acid and refrigeration, predominantly belonged to multilocus sequence typing (MLST) clonal complex (CC)-21. This study shows that oxidative stress resistance plays a role in determining the differential level of aerotolerance in C. jejuni and that AT and HAT strains of C. jejuni are more tolerant to oxidants and low temperatures than OS strains.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was supported by a research grant (2016P001R) from the Alberta Agriculture and Forestry and the Leaders Opportunity Fund from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).
© 2019, The Author(s).