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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: MOLECULAR MICROBIOLOGY AND CONTROL OF ENTERIC PATHOGENS THAT CONTAMINATE FRESH PRODUCE Title: Fitness of Human Pathogens on Plants and Implications for Food Safety

Author
item Brandl, Maria

Submitted to: Annual Review of Phytopathology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 1, 2006
Publication Date: September 1, 2006
Citation: Brandl, M. 2006. Fitness of human enteric pathogens on plants and implications for food safety. Annual Review of Phytopathology.44:367-392

Interpretive Summary: The continuous rise in the number of outbreaks of foodborne illness linked to fresh fruit and vegetables challenges the notion that enteric pathogens are defined mostly by their ability to colonize the intestinal habitat. This review describes the epidemiology of produce-associated outbreaks of foodborne disease and presents recently acquired knowledge on the behavior of enteric pathogens on plants, with an emphasis on Salmonella enterica, Escherichia coli O157:H7, and Listeria monocytogenes. The growth and survival of enteric pathogens on plants are discussed in the light of knowledge and concepts in plant microbial ecology, including epiphytic fitness, the physicochemical nature of plant surfaces, biofilm formation, and microbe-microbe and plant-microbe interactions. Information regarding the various stresses that affect the survival of enteric pathogens and the molecular events that underlie their interactions in the plant environment provides a good foundation for assessing their role in the infectious dose of the pathogens when contaminated fresh produce is the vehicle of illness. This book chapter reviews the epidemiology of food-borne illness linked to fresh fruits and vegetables, the environmental factors that are associated with preharvest microbial contamination of crops, and our current knowledge of the biology of enteric pathogens on plant surfaces.

Technical Abstract: The continuous rise in the number of outbreaks of foodborne illness linked to fresh fruit and vegetables challenges the notion that enteric pathogens are defined mostly by their ability to colonize the intestinal habitat. This review describes the epidemiology of produce-associated outbreaks of foodborne disease and presents recently acquired knowledge on the behavior of enteric pathogens on plants, with an emphasis on Salmonella enterica, Escherichia coli O157:H7, and Listeria monocytogenes. The growth and survival of enteric pathogens on plants are discussed in the light of knowledge and concepts in plant microbial ecology, including epiphytic fitness, the physicochemical nature of plant surfaces, biofilm formation, and microbe-microbe and plant-microbe interactions. Information regarding the various stresses that affect the survival of enteric pathogens and the molecular events that underlie their interactions in the plant environment provides a good foundation for assessing their role in the infectious dose of the pathogens when contaminated fresh produce is the vehicle of illness. This book chapter reviews the epidemiology of food-borne illness linked to fresh fruits and vegetables, the environmental factors that are associated with preharvest microbial contamination of crops, and our current knowledge of the biology of enteric pathogens on plant surfaces.

Last Modified: 10/22/2014
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