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ARS Home » Plains Area » Clay Center, Nebraska » U.S. Meat Animal Research Center » Meat Safety and Quality » Research » Research Project #438724

Research Project: Collective Dynamics of Environmental Multispecies Biofilms That Facilitate Sanitizer Tolerance and Dissemination of Foodborne Pathogens

Location: Meat Safety and Quality

Project Number: 3040-42000-021-001-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: May 15, 2020
End Date: May 14, 2025

The overall objective of this application is to disentangle the complex interactions between the food-borne pathogens and environmental multispecies biofilms in response to their abiotic surrounding and commonly used sanitizers and determine the patterns of pathogen dissemination to the food product. The long-term goal of this research project is to develop effective intervention strategies to control the colonization of food-borne pathogens in biofilms harbored in the hot spots within the food processing facility and curb accidental contamination of food with pathogens.

We propose to study microbial interactions between food-borne pathogens and environmental microorganisms in meat processing facilities for sanitizer tolerance and dispersal of pathogens from biofilms to meat product. ARS scientists will collect floor drain samples from meat plants that have had different pathogen prevalence levels, and evaluate biofilm forming ability by the various drain samples as well as compare the protective effect of mixed biofilms on pathogen (E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella enterica) tolerance against common sanitizers. Scientists at Stanford University will perform scanning electron microscope and 3D confocal microscope analysis to investigate pathogen spatial distribution in mixed biofilm structure and its impact on pathogen stress tolerance and dissemination to meat product. Scientists at Texas A&M AgriLife Research will conduct 16S rRNA sequencing analysis to identify bacterial species composition within the various drain samples and also perform species isolation to investigate the potential structure- or species- associated protective mechanisms by mixed biofilm formation.