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How to be a successful food borne pathogen: step 1, grow on food

Food microbiology is an important issue we cover on this blog, because food safety is vital to prevent foodborne illness. The use of technologies like whole-genome sequencing help identify and pinpoint the source of microbial contaminants, but how do microbes become contaminants in the first place? A new Applied and Environmental Microbiology report suggests that Salmonella requires specific genes to become a foodborne contaminant. The bacterium, which causes approximately one million illnesses annually in the United States, is often found in produce (such as salad greens, tomatoes, and alfalfa sprouts).

Growth on plants allows bacteria to grow to higher numbers, increasing their likelihood of infecting plant eaters. The plant environment is much different than an animal environment and requires specific adhesion, metabolic, and stress response genes. The new report finds that Salmonella requires a specific pattern of gene expression to enable its persistent colonization on tomato plants.
 
 

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