Black yeasts can survive extreme conditions in food production because of their polyextremotolerant character. However, significant strain-to-strain variation in black yeast thermoresistance has been observed. In this study, we assessed the variability in tolerance to nonthermal interventions among a collection of food-related black yeast strains. Variation in tolerance to UV light treatment, high pressure processing (HPP), sanitizers, and osmotic pressure was observed within each species. The two strains previously shown to possess high thermotolerance, Exophiala phaeomuriformis FSL-E2-0572 and Exophiala dermatitidis YB-734, were also the most HPP tolerant but were the least halotolerant. Meanwhile, Aureobasidium pullulans FSL-E2-0290 was the most UV and sanitizer tolerant but had been shown to have relatively low thermoresistance. Fisher's exact tests showed that thermoresistance in black yeasts was associated with HPP tolerance and inversely with halotolerance, but no association was found with UV tolerance or sanitizer tolerance. Collectively, the relative stress tolerance among strains varied across interventions. Given this variation, different food products are susceptible to black yeast spoilage. In addition, different strains should be selected in challenge studies specific to the intervention.

  • HPP treatment at 600 MPa for 1.5 min reduced black yeasts by more than 7 log CFU/mL.

  • Black yeast UV tolerance is highly variable and depended on pigmentation of cells.

  • Contact time contributed more to black yeast reduction than did sanitizer concentration.

  • Aureobasidium spp. tolerated higher NaCl concentration than did Exophiala spp.

  • The relative stress tolerance among strains varied by intervention.

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