RNA sequencing-based transcriptional overview of xerotolerance in Cronobacter sakazakii SP291

Shabarinath Srikumar, Yu Cao, Qiongqiong Yan, Koenraad Van Hoorde, Scott Nguyen, Shane Cooney, Gopal R. Gopinath, Ben D. Tall, Sathesh K. Sivasankaran, Angelika Lehner, Roger Stephan, Séamus Fanning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Cronobacter sakazakii is a xerotolerant neonatal pathogen epidemiologically linked to powdered infant food formula, often resulting in high mortality rates. Here, we used transcriptome sequencing (RNA-seq) to provide transcriptional insights into the survival of C. sakazakii in desiccated conditions. Our RNA-seq data show that about 22% of the total C. sakazakii genes were significantly upregulated and 9% were downregulated during desiccation survival. When reverse transcriptionquantitative PCR (qRT-PCR) was used to validate the RNA-seq data, we found that the primary desiccation response was gradually downregulated during the tested 4 hours of desiccation, while the secondary response remained constitutively upregulated. The 4-hour desiccation tolerance of C. sakazakii was dependent on the immediate microenvironment surrounding the bacterial cell. The removal of Trypticase soy broth (TSB) salts and the introduction of sterile infant formula residues in the microenvironment enhanced the desiccation survival of C. sakazakii SP291. The trehalose biosynthetic pathway encoded by otsA and otsB, a prominent secondary bacterial desiccation response, was highly upregulated in desiccated C. sakazakii. C. sakazakii SP291 ΔotsAB was significantly inhibited compared with the isogenic wild type in an 8-hour desiccation survival assay, confirming the physiological importance of trehalose in desiccation survival. Overall, we provide a comprehensive RNA-seq-based transcriptional overview along with confirmation of the phenotypic importance of trehalose metabolism in Cronobacter sakazakii during desiccation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere01993-18
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Cronobacter sakazakii
  • Desiccation
  • RNA-seq
  • Transcriptome
  • Xerotolerance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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