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Research article2019Peer reviewed

Plant species affects establishment of Escherichia coli O157:H7 gfp+ on leafy vegetables

Darlison, J.; Mieli, M.; Bengtsson, T.; Hartmann, R.; Mogren, L.; Vagsholm, I.; Karlsson, M.; Alsanius, B. W.

Abstract

Aims Greenhouse trials were conducted with different cultivars of baby leaf spinach, rocket and Swiss chard and inoculation of Escherichia coli O157:H7 gfp+, to determine whether plant species and cultivar have an impact on the establishment of this strain. Methods and Results Three cultivars each of spinach, rocket and Swiss chard were spray inoculated with E. coli O157:H7 gfp+ at doses of log 7 CFU per ml. Due to the different lengths of growing period spinach and Swiss chard were spray inoculated three times and rocket five times, with final inoculation performed 3 days prior to harvest. After a growing period of 26-33 days, E. coli O157:H7 gfp+ was recovered from the leaf surface in mean populations between log 1 and 6 CFU per gram. The lowest occurrence of E. coli O157:H7 gfp+ was found on rocket leaves and the highest on spinach. There was no significant difference in the establishment of E. coli O157:H7 gfp+ between cultivars, but there were differences between plant species. Indigenous phyllosphere bacteria were pure cultured and identified with 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Conclusions Despite the same high inoculation dose of E. coli O157:H7 gfp+ on leaves, the establishment rate differed between plant species. However, plant cultivar did not affect establishment. Pantoea agglomerans dominated the identified bacterial isolates. Significance and Impact of the Study As previous studies are inconclusive on choice of model plant species and cultivar, we studied whether plant species or cultivar determines the fate of E. coli O157:H7 gfp+ on leafy vegetables. The findings indicate that plant species is a key determinant in the establishment of E. coli O157:H7 gfp+.

Keywords

E. coli O157:H7; food safety; leafy vegetables; phyllosphere; plant-microbe interaction; plant cultivar

Published in

Journal of Applied Microbiology
2019, Volume: 127, number: 1, pages: 292-305 Publisher: WILEY