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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania » Eastern Regional Research Center » Molecular Characterization of Foodborne Pathogens Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #342833

Research Project: Advanced Development of Innovative Technologies and Systematic Approaches to Foodborne Hazard Detection and Characterization for Improving Food Safety

Location: Molecular Characterization of Foodborne Pathogens Research

Title: Human pathogens in plant biofilms: Formation, physiology, and detection

item Ximenes, Eduardo - Purdue University
item Hoagland, Lori - Purdue University
item Ku, Seockmo - Purdue University
item Ladisch, Michael - Purdue University

Submitted to: Biotechnology and Bioengineering
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/5/2017
Publication Date: 1/25/2017
Citation: Ximenes, E., Hoagland, L., Ku, S., Ladisch, M. 2017. Human pathogens in plant biofilms: Formation, physiology, and detection. Biotechnology and Bioengineering. 114:1403–1418.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Fresh produce, viewed as an essential part of a healthy life style is usually consumed in the form of raw or minimally processed fruits and vegetables, and is a potentially important source of food-borne human pathogenic bacteria and viruses. These are passed on to the consumer since the bacteria can form biofilms or otherwise populate plant tissues, thereby using plants as vectors to infect animal hosts. The life cycle of the bacteria in plants differs from those in animals or humans and results in altered physiochemical and biological properties (e.g., physiology, immunity, native microflora, physical barriers, mobility, and temperature). Mechanisms by which healthy plants may become contaminated by microorganisms, develop biofilms, and then pass on their pathogenic burden to people are explored in the context of hollow fiber microfiltration by which plant-derived microorganisms may be recovered and rapidly concentrated to facilitate study of their properties. Enzymes, when added to macerated plant tissues, hydrolyze or alter macromolecules that would otherwise foul hollow-fiber microfiltration membranes. Hence, microfiltration may be used to quickly increase the concentration of microorganisms to detectable levels. This review discusses microbial colonization of vegetables, formation and properties of biofilms, and how hollow fiber microfiltration may be used to concentrate microbial targets to detectable levels. The use of added enzymes helps to disintegrate biofilms and minimize hollow fiber membrane fouling, thereby providing a new tool for more time effectively elucidating mechanisms by which biofilms develop and plant tissue becomes contaminated with human pathogens.