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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Exploring Genomic Differences and Ecological Reservoirs to Control Foodborne Pathogens

Location: Meat Safety & Quality Research

Project Number: 3040-42000-015-00
Project Type: Appropriated

Start Date: Feb 01, 2011
End Date: Jan 31, 2016

Objective:
1. Molecular characterization of the genomic and transcriptomic differences present in foodborne pathogens (particularly Shiga-toxigenic Escherichia coli(STEC) and Salmonella spp.) to provide an understanding of genetic variation and how this variation is associated with the ability to cause disease in humans. 2. Survey ecological niches and reservoirs using a systems approach to identify sites for potential interventions to reduce foodborne pathogens. 3. Identify how foodborne pathogens acquire, maintain and transmit genes for antimicrobial resistance and virulence within cattle from production to processing.

Approach:
Prevention and control of foodborne pathogens entering the food chain remain elusive goals, despite intensive research efforts. Information is lacking regarding the genetic variation among these pathogens in terms of the virulence and metabolic genes present, nucleotide polymorphisms, and differences in the transcriptional response and control mechanisms employed when they are exposed to adverse environmental stimuli. The advent of novel, high throughput DNA sequencing methods has revolutionized the fields of microbial genomics and microbial transcriptomics. Herein, we propose to make use of these methods and a systems approach in experiments designed to address three key knowledge gaps: 1. How are foodborne pathogens gaining entry into the food chain? 2. What are the genetic elements that facilitate a foodborne pathogen’s ability to cause disease and how are they acquired and maintained? 3. What are the novel DNA targets that can be exploited for detection, traceback and intervention development of more virulent serotypes? The successful completion of this project will result in the development of methods and techniques to detect, characterize and target foodborne pathogens’ ability to survive in their different environments, cause disease in humans and gain entry into the food supply--which ultimately will provide a microbiologically safer food supply.

Last Modified: 10/26/2014
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