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ISME J. 2009 Feb;3(2):261-5. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2008.95. Epub 2008 Oct 2.

Interaction of Salmonella enterica with basil and other salad leaves.

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  • 1Department of Life Science, Division of Cell and Molecular Biology, Imperial College London, London, UK.


Contaminated salad leaves have emerged as important vehicles for the transmission of enteric pathogens to humans. A recent outbreak of Salmonella enterica serovar Senftenberg (S. Senftenberg) in the United Kingdom has been traced to the consumption of contaminated basil. Using the outbreak strain of S. Senftenberg, we found that it binds to basil, lettuce, rocket and spinach leaves showing a pattern of diffuse adhesion. Flagella were seen linking S. Senftenberg to the leaf epidermis, and the deletion of fliC (encoding phase-1 flagella) resulted in a significantly reduced level of adhesion. In contrast, although flagella linking S. enterica serovar Typhimurium to the basil leaf epidermis were widespread, deletion of fliC did not affect leaf attachment levels. These results implicate the role of flagella in Salmonella leaf attachment and suggest that different Salmonella serovars use strain-specific mechanisms to attach to salad leaves.

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