Shewanella baltica, one of the dominant spoilers of seafoods, can synthesize putrescine from ornithine under acidic conditions, which could result in food spoilage and health problems. We identified three regulatory enzymes (SpeC, SpeF, and PotE) in the ornithine decarboxylation (ODC) pathway of S. baltica by searching the NCBI database and exploring their functional roles through gene knock-out technology. The ornithine decarboxylase SpeC is an auxiliary adjustor of the ODC system, whereas the ornithine-putrescine transporter SpeE and ornithine decarboxylase SpeF participate in the production of extracellular putrescine. Exogenous addition of ornithine and putrescine promotes the extracellular secretion of putrescine by upregulating the expression of speF and potE. The putrescine biosynthesis and alkalization of cytoplasm is enhanced at weak acidic pH compared with neutral pH, especially at pH 6.0. The maximum upregulation of ODC genes and the optimum decarboxylation activity of SpeF are achieved in a weak acidic environment (pH 6.0), suggesting that the ODC pathway plays an important role in putrescine production and the cytoplasmic acid counteraction of S. baltica. This study contributes to a wider understanding of spoilage mechanisms in food systems and provides theoretical support for developing novel seafood preservation methods.

  • The ODC system responsible for putrescine production in S. baltica was investigated.

  • Expression of speF and potE can be induced by ornithine and putrescine.

  • SpeC is an auxiliary adjustor for components of the ODC system.

  • S. baltica cell cytoplasm was alkalized in acid environments via the ODC system.

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