A wide range of fresh produce has been linked to outbreaks of Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica including melons, jalapeño and serrano peppers, basil, lettuce, horseradish sprouts and tomatoes. Researchers at Imperial College London are looking at how these bacterial pathogens latch onto fruits and vegetables and establish themselves in the first place.
This image shows the association of Escherichia coli with rocket leaves. Credit: Rob Shaw
They have discovered that strains of Salmonella behave differently when attached to ripe and unripe tomatoes. "Bacteria that attach to ripe tomatoes produce an extensive network of filaments, which is not seen when they attach to the surface of unripe tomatoes. This could affect how they are maintained on the surface," explained Professor Gad Frankel who is leading the research. "We are not completely sure yet why this happens; it might be due to the surface properties of the tomatoes or alternatively the expression of ripening hormones."
This is just one example of the subtle interplay between food-poisoning microbes and the fresh produce they contaminate, that determines how pathogens become established in the food chain. "Apart from Salmonella, strains of E. coli are also particularly devious in the way they interact with plant surfaces. They have hair-like appendages and flagella they can use as hooks to successfully secure themselves onto things like salad leaves."
Although fresh fruits and vegetables are recognized as important vehicles that transmit harmful bacteria, they are still important components of a healthy and balanced diet. "By and large, raw fruits and vegetables are safe to eat and provide numerous health benefits. By working out the reasons behind sporadic outbreaks of infections, we can control these better and help maintain consumer confidence. By improving food safety we would also see important economical and health benefits."
Understanding how bacteria interact with fresh produce is a crucial but only the first step, explained Professor Frankel. "Translating research into new policies or methods for decontamination is the challenge for future studies," he said.
Laura Udakis | EurekAlert!
When fat cells change their colour
28.10.2016 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
Aquaculture: Clear Water Thanks to Cork
28.10.2016 | Technologie Lizenz-Büro (TLB) der Baden-Württembergischen Hochschulen GmbH
Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.
So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
28.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
28.10.2016 | Life Sciences