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Research article2022Peer reviewedOpen access

Seed inoculation with antagonistic bacteria limits occurrence of E. coli O157:H7gfp+ on baby spinach leaves

Karlsson, Maria; Uhlig, Elisabeth; Håkansson, Åsa; Alsanius, Beatrix


Backround During the last decades, outbreaks of foodborne illnesses have increasingly been linked to fresh and/or minimally processed fruit and vegetables. Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli was the causal agent for major outbreaks in Europe with leafy green vegetables and sprouts. To improve food safety, microbial antagonism has received attention during recent years and could be one of the solution to prevent contamination of food borne pathogens on fresh produce. Here we investigate the antagonistic effect of three bacterial strains (Pseudomonas orientalis, P. flavescens and Rhodococcus sp.) isolated from spinach leaves against E. coli O157:H7gfp + under laboratory and greenhouse conditions. Results Our results shows that significantly less culturable E.coli O157:H7gfp + were retrieved from the spinach canopy subjected to antagonist seed treatment than canopy inoculation. Seeds inoculated with Rhodococcus sp. significantly reduced growth of E. coli O157:H7gfp + compared with the other antagonists. The result from the in vitro study shows a significant reduction of growth of E. coli O157:H7gfp+, but only after 44 h when E. coli O157:H7gfp + was propagated in a mixture of spent media from all three antagonists. Conclusions The antagonistic effect on phyllospheric E.coli O157:H7gfp + observed after seed inoculation with Rhodococcus sp. might be an indication of induced resistance mechanism in the crop. In addition, there was a small reduction of culturable E.coli O157:H7gfp + when propagated in spent media from all three antagonists. Nutritional conditions rather than metabolites formed by the three chosen organisms appear to be critical for controlling E. coli O157:H7gfp+.


Bacterial antagonist; E. coli O157: H7; Pseudomonas flavescens; Pseudomonas orientalis; Rhodococcus sp.; Spinach

Published in

BMC Microbiology
2022, Volume: 22, number: 1, article number: 131

      SLU Authors

      • Associated SLU-program

        SLU Plant Protection Network

        Sustainable Development Goals

        SDG3 Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
        SDG2 End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
        SDG12 Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

        UKÄ Subject classification

        Food Science

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