Abstract: This article reports the characterization of a wild strain of Alicyclobacillus acidoterrestris and describes the implications of the heat resistance of this microorganism in tomato juice. The strain (labeled as A. acidoterrestrisγ4) showed pH and temperature ranges for growth typical of the species (3.0 to 6.0 for the pH and 35 to 60 °C for the temperature); heat resistance in tomato juice was as follows: DT values of 40.65, 9.47, and 1.5 min (at 85, 90, and 95 °C, respectively) and z-value of 7 °C. A treatment at 70 °C for 15 min was found to be optimal for spore activation, whereas Malt Extract Agar, acidified to pH 4.5, showed good results for spore recovery. Concerning the implications of heat resistance of A. acidoterrestris on tomato juice, high temperatures required for spore inactivation determined a general decrease of the antioxidant activity (increase of the redox potential and reduction of the chain-breaking activity), but not the formation of brown compounds (namely, hydroxymethylfurfural), thus suggesting an effect on the secondary antioxidants (carotenoids and ascorbic acid) rather than on lycopene.
Practical Application: Alicyclobacillus acidoterrestris is an emerging spore-forming microorganism, capable of causing spoilage in tomato juice. Due to their high thermal resistance, spores could be used as targets for the optimization of heat processing; this article reports on the assessment of thermal resistance of a wild strain of A. acidoterrestris, then focusing on the effect of the thermal treatment necessary to inactivate spores on the quality of tomato juice.