Author(s): Macarisin D, Patel J, Bauchan G, Giron JA, Sharma VK
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Abstract Shiga-toxigenic Escherichia coli O157:H7 outbreaks have been linked to consumption of fresh produce. It is generally recognized that bacterial attachment to vegetal matrices constitutes the first step in contamination of fresh produce. Cellular appendages, such as curli fibers, and cellulose, a constituent of extracellular matrix, have been suggested to be involved in E. coli attachment and persistence in fresh produce. A comparative evaluation was conducted on the ability of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 strains EDL933 and 86-24, linked to two independent foodborne disease outbreaks in humans, and their mutants deficient in curli and/or cellulose expression to colonize and to firmly attach to spinach leaf. Inoculated spinach leaves were incubated at 22°C, and at 0, 24, and 48 h after incubation loosely and strongly attached E. coli O157:H7 populations were determined. Curli-expressing E. coli O157:H7 strains developed stronger association with leaf surface, whereas curli-deficient mutants attached to spinach at significantly (p<0.01) lower numbers. Attachment of cellulose-impaired mutants to spinach leaves was not significantly different from that of curliated strains. The relative attachment strength of E. coli O157:H7 to spinach increased with incubation time for the curli-expressing strains. Laser scanning confocal microscopy (LSCM) analysis of inoculated leaves revealed that curli-expressing E. coli O157:H7 were surrounded by extracellular structures strongly immunostained with anti-curli antibodies. Production of cellulose was not required to develop strong attachment to spinach leaf. These results indicate that curli fibers are essential for strong attachment of E. coli O157:H7 to spinach whereas cellulose is dispensable.
This article was published in Foodborne Pathog Dis
and referenced in Journal of Microbial & Biochemical Technology