Plant species‐dependent transmission of Escherichia coli O157: H7 from the spermosphere to cotyledons and first leaves

Kathryn Mary Wright, Peter John Wright, Nicola Jean Holden*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

The colonization of six edible plant species: alfalfa, broccoli, coriander, lettuce, parsley and rocket, by the human pathogen Shigatoxigenic Escherichia coli was investigated following two modes of artificial inoculation of seeds, by soaking or watering. The frequency and extent of colonization of cotyledons depended on the mode of inoculation, with three, rapidly germinating species being successfully colonized after overnight soaking, but slower germinating species requiring prolonged exposure to bacteria by watering of the surrounding growth media. Separate analysis of the cotyledons and leaves from individual plants highlighted that successful colonization of the true leaves was also species dependent. For three species, failure of transfer, or lack of nutrients or suitable microhabitat on the leaf surface resulted in infrequent bacterial colonization. Colonization of leaves was lower and generally in proportion to that in cotyledons, if present. The potential risks associated with consumption of leafy produce are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)926-933
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Microbiology Reports
Volume14
Issue number6
Early online date15 Aug 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPrint publication - Dec 2022

Keywords

  • Escherichia coli O157:H7
  • spermosphere
  • cotyledons
  • leafy vegetables
  • Innoculation
  • Seed
  • Cotyledon
  • Humans
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Plants
  • Plant Leaves/microbiology
  • Food Microbiology
  • Escherichia coli O157
  • Food Contamination/analysis

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