This study was designed to assess the effects that sublethal exposures to pronase (PRN) and benzalkonium chloride (BAC) combined treatments have on Listeria monocytogenes-Escherichia colt dual-species biofilms grown on stainless steel in terms of tolerance development (TD) to these compounds. Additionally, fluorescence microscopy was used to observe the changes of the biofilm structure. PRN-BAC exposure was carried out using three different approaches and TD was evaluated treating biofilms with a final 100 mu g/ml PRN followed by 50 mu g/ml BAC combined treatment. Results showed that exposure to PRN-BAC significantly decreased the number of adhered L. monocytogenes (P < 0.05); while E. colt counts remained generally unaltered. It was also demonstrated that the incorporation of recovery periods during sublethal exposures increased the tolerance of both species of the mixed biofilm to the final PRN-BAC treatment. Moreover, control biofilms became more resistant to PRN-BAC if longer incubation periods were used. Regardless of the treatment used, log reduction values were generally lower in L. monocytogenes compared to E. coli. Additionally, microscopy images showed an altered morphology produced by sublethal PRN-BAC in exposed L monocytogenes-E. colt dual-species biofilms compared to control samples. Results also demonstrated that L. monocytogenes-E. coli dual-species biofilms are able to develop tolerance to PRN-BAC combined treatments depending on way they have been previously exposed. Moreover, they suggest that the generation of bacterial tolerance should be included as a parameter for sanitation procedures design. (C) 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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