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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Albany, California » Western Regional Research Center » Produce Safety and Microbiology Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #374527

Research Project: Ecology and Detection of Human Pathogens in the Produce Production Continuum

Location: Produce Safety and Microbiology Research

Title: Use of lytic bacteriophages as an antimicrobial intervention to improve produce safety

item Liao, Yen-Te
item Wu, Vivian

Submitted to: American Chemical Society Symposium Series
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/6/2020
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Due to the nature of lytic bacteriophages, such as fast replication and narrow-host spectrum, it is a promising intervention measure to control foodborne pathogens. This presentation attempts to focus on the potential used of phage-associated technology to improve the produce safety.

Technical Abstract: In recent years, there are more and more foodborne outbreaks associated with the consumption of the produce products contaminated with enteric pathogens, such as Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli and Salmonella, in the United States. Produce is usually consumed raw, and it can be easily contaminated at any point from farm to table where pathogens are present. Due to the open setting of the farming system, crops are susceptible to the contamination introduced from the external sources, and the presence of physical contaminants, such as dirt, may also adversely affect the effectiveness of the intervention used at either preharvest or postharvest environments. Additionally, to enhance the antimicrobial activity, the overuse of antibiotics could highly result in the development of antibiotic resistance on those pathogens. Bacteriophages (or phages) are highly diverse and abundant entities in the biosphere, being approximately ten times more prevalent than bacteria. Due to the nature of lytic phages, they are considered as an alternative to antibiotics to control bacterial pathogens. Additionally, the biological features of the lytic phages are different based on various sources of isolation; thus, these naturally occurring antimicrobial agents could be applied to diverse conditions alone or in a hurdle setting. Phage intervention has the potential for microbial decontamination of fresh produce because lytic phages exhibit specificity and coevolution with their bacterial hosts, and they are eco-friendly. Most importantly, phage-based intervention could significantly decrease the frequency of antibiotic resistance development. This talk will discuss the current status and role of lytic phages as an antimicrobial intervention to improve produce safety and focus on the application of phage-based technology to mitigate the potential contamination in the produce preharvest environment.