Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Molecular Biology, Genomics and Proteomics of Foodborne Pathogens
The overall goal of this project is, by intensive molecular analysis of important human foodborne pathogens, to obtain fundamental information of value to all microbial food safety researchers. Comparative genomics approaches will yield discoveries that may lead to novel strategies for making a safer food supply.  The objectives of this project involve analysis of human enteric pathogens by genomics and proteomics methods and the design of improved methods for sensitive detection, identification and characterization of pathogens.  The data obtained will be valuable for microbial source tracking; and characterization of virulence determinants related to food production, antimicrobial resistance mechanisms, and mechanisms of attachment, survival, growth and pathogen fitness on food.  This project involves the molecular characterization of pathogenic strains of CampylobacterEscherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, and Salmonella enterica. Comparative genomics of outbreak, clinical, and environmental strains will allow development of improved methods for identifying and discriminating pathogens. Because of the recent availability of Campylobacter genome sequences, our major emphasis in this project will be to research relevant areas of Campylobacter biology related to our objectives.  The approaches we develop for the molecular characterization of Campylobacter will guide similar work on other pathogens in pre-harvest produce models. This research will provide fundamental information for the development of novel methods to detect, identify, quantify and minimize human pathogens in food.  Our specific objectives are listed below.  
Objectives Researcher(s)
Develop mass spectrometry (MS) methods for identification of foodborne pathogens and for proteomic analysis of specific factors involved in contamination of food. Keith Fagerquist, Ph.D.
Develop previously unexplored ways to reduce the human pathogen burden of foods with the aid of naturally occurring antimicrobial compounds. Mendel Friedman, Ph.D.
Bacterial identification by MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry Leslie Harden
Determine the molecular basis of pathogen survival and growth in food environments with an emphasis on C. jejuni. William Miller, Ph.D.
Develop genomic technologies for gene-indexing, identification, and detection of bacterial pathogens. Craig Parker, Ph.D.
Develop and validate molecular detection methods for bacterial pathogens and toxins in food. Beatriz Quiñones, Ph.D.

Last Modified: 4/11/2013