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Death of Staphylococcus aureus in Liquid Whole Egg Near pH 8

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  • Food Microbiology And Toxicology


Incubating and shaking Staphylococcus aureus in liquid whole egg causes a decline in viability. During the period of agitation, the natural pH of the egg rises from about 7.2 to between 8.0 and 8.2 as a result of a loss of carbon dioxide. However, if the pH of the egg is prevented from rising, either by not shaking or by addition of a buffer, S. aureus will grow. The cause of death is traced to the presence of lysozyme of egg white. Interestingly, the action of lysozyme is not attributable to its bacterial lytic property but, instead, to the basicity of the lysozyme molecule. This conclusion is supported by the fact that the lytic property of lysozyme is known to have its optimal activity near neutrality and by the finding that protamine sulfate, a nonenzymatic basic polypeptide, also caused death of S. aureus at pH 8.0 but not at 7.0. It was postulated that the rise in pH renders the bacterial cells more negatively charged, so that in the presence of positively charged molecules like lysozyme or protamine sulfate a complex is formed, agglutinating the cells.

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