The objective of this study was to control the survival or biofilm formation of Cronobacter spp. on stainless steel surfaces using Paenibacillus polymyxa. The antibacterial activity of a cell-free culture supernatant (CFCS) of P. polymyxa against Cronobacter spp. was found to vary with P. polymyxa incubation time. Maximum activity occurred when P. polymyxa was incubated at 25 or 30 °C for 96 h. When the CFCS was introduced to Cronobacter spp. adhered to stainless steel strips at 25 °C for up to 72 h, the CFCS successfully inhibited Cronobacter biofilm formation. Additionally, stainless steel surfaces with a preformed P. polymyxa biofilm were exposed to Cronobacter spp. suspensions in PBS or 0.1% peptone water at 3, 5, or 7 log CFU/mL to facilitate its attachment. The Cronobacter population significantly decreased on this surface, regardless of inoculum level or carrier, when the P. polymyxa biofilm was present. However, the microbial population decreased within 6 h and remained unchanged thereafter when the surface was immersed in an inoculum suspended in 0.1% peptone water at 5 or 7 log CFU/mL. These results indicate that P. polymyxa is able to use a promising candidate competitive-exclusion microorganism to control Cronobacter spp.
This study demonstrated inhibitory activity of Paenibacillus polymyxa against biofilm formation of Cronobacter spp. on stainless steel surfaces and showed possibility of P. polymyxa as a competitive-exclusion microorganism against Cronobacter spp. These findings will be useful when developing strategies to control Cronobacter spp. in food processing plants using P. polymyxa.