Effect of quaternary ammonium compounds on bacteria : comparison of sensitive and resistant strains of the same species Public Deposited

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  • To determine whether some bacteria are more susceptible than others to quaternary ammonium compounds, the following bacteria were grown on agar slants containing various concentrations of alkyl dimethyl ethyl benzyl ammonium chloride (ADEBAC), and alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride (ADBAC): Aerobacter aerogenes 12658, Alcaligenes metalcaligenes, Brevibacterium linens, Chromobacterium lividum, Escherichia coli 198, Micrococcus caseolyticus, Microbacterium flavum, Microbacterium lacticum, Proteus vulgaris, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Pseudomonas fluorescens MI, Pseudomonas fragi, Pseudomonas saliciperda, Pseudomonas syringae, Staphylococcus aureus 209, and Streptococcus lactis E. Gram-negative test organisms developed higher resistance to both the ADEBAC and the ADBAC compounds. The gram-positive bacteria were found to be more susceptible to the action of these compounds. The higher lipid content of the gram-negative bacteria appears to play a role in protecting these organisms against the injurious effects of the quaternary ammonium compounds. Quaternary ammonium resistant strains of the test organisms were found to contain more fat bodies per cell than the sensitive strains when stained with Sudan black B. The ADEBAC sensitive and the ADEBAC resistant strains of the following gram-negative test organisms were used for comparative tests: A. aerogenes 12658, A. metalcaligenes, E. coli 198, P. vulgaris, P. aeruginosa, P. fluorescens MI, P. fragi, P. saliciperda, P. syringae, and S. marcescens. It was found that the growth temperature had an effect on pigment production in the case of the ADEBAC sensitive strains of S. marcescens. The test organism failed to produce its characteristic pink pigment when incubated at 37°C., a temperature above its optimum. It is postulated that the higher growth temperature has an effect on the cells' enzymatic composition. No differences were observed among the ADEBAC sensitive and the ADEBAC resistant strains of the test organisms with regard to motility and growth patterns on TGY agar slants and in nutrient broth. The ADEBAC apparently had an inhibitory effect on gelatinase, nitratase, tryptophanase and various carbohydrase enzymes of the ADEBAC resistant strains. From the results obtained in this study, it may be concluded that gram-negative bacteria are more resistant, and the gram-positive bacteria more susceptible to quaternary ammonium compounds; and that the quaternary ammonium compounds have an inhibitory effect on certain bacterial enzymes. Furthermore, quaternary ammonium germicides may alter lipid metabolism of cells as they become resistant and this change may eventually be seen as involved in the mechanism of resistance.
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