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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Albany, California » Western Regional Research Center » Foodborne Toxin Detection and Prevention Research » Research » Research Project #435015

Research Project: Identification and Characterization of Bacteria Capable of Suppressing Human Pathogens in Agricultural Soils

Location: Foodborne Toxin Detection and Prevention Research

Project Number: 2030-42000-054-002-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2018
End Date: Aug 31, 2023

The objective of this project is to: 1) identify human disease suppressive soils in produce fields and 2) examine the effects of the addition of composted animal manures on the suppression of human pathogens in soils 3) Examine the effects of wild birds on food-safety risks by: A) Identifying bird species that carry pathogenic bacteria; B) Identifying bird species that inhabit crop fields and C) compare the ability of E. coli to survive in different species of bird feces.

1. We will sample soils from farms that have that have historical data regarding soil management practices (i. e. organic, conventional, hybrid) and examine the soils ability to suppress foodborne pathogens and how these communities can be altered to maximize pathogen suppression. Relative to control treatments, we will assess whether farm management differences and composted manure additions result in a significant increase in beneficial bacteria and decrease in pathogen persistence (measures). 2. We will determine which species of bacteria are most beneficial in suppressing the pathogens E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes. Relative to other bacteria found in soil, we will assess whether certain bacteria compete more vigorously with pathogens, resulting in a significant decrease in pathogen survival. A. We will capture wild birds on or near farms, identify the bird species, collect their feces, and test them for the presence of the pathogens E. coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter spp. B. We will quantify the abundance of different bird species on farms and identify species most likely to defecate on crops. C. We will conduct laboratory experiments to determine E. coli survival rate in different species of bird feces placed on lettuce plants and soils.