- Distinct Effects of Sorbic Acid and Acetic Acid on the Electrophysiology and Metabolism of Bacillus subtilis
- Applied and Environmental Microbiology
- Volume | Issue number
- 80 | 19
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences (SILS)
Sorbic acid and acetic acid are among the weak organic acid preservatives most commonly used to improve the microbiological stability of foods. They have similar pKa values, but sorbic acid is a far more potent preservative. Weak organic acids are most effective at low pH. Under these circumstances, they are assumed to diffuse across the membrane as neutral undissociated acids. We show here that the level of initial intracellular acidification depends on the concentration of undissociated acid and less on the nature of the acid. Recovery of the internal pH depends on the presence of an energy source, but acidification of the cytosol causes a decrease in glucose flux. Furthermore, sorbic acid is a more potent uncoupler of the membrane potential than acetic acid. Together these effects may also slow the rate of ATP synthesis significantly and may thus (partially) explain sorbic acid's effectiveness.
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