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J Food Prot. 2000 May;63(5):625-32.

Naturally occurring biofilms on alfalfa and other types of sprouts.

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U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Eastern Regional Research Center, Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania 19038, USA.


Scanning electron microscopy was used to examine the cotyledons, hypocotyls, and roots of alfalfa, broccoli, clover, and sunflower sprouts purchased from retail outlets as well as alfalfa sprouts grown in the laboratory using a tray system equipped with automatic irrigation. Biofilms were observed on all plant parts of the four types of commercially grown sprouts. Biofilms were also commonly observed on alfalfa sprouts grown in the laboratory by 2 days of growth. Rod-shaped bacteria of various sizes were predominant on all sprouts examined both as free-living cells and as components of biofilms. Occasionally, cocci-shaped bacteria as well as yeast cells were also present in biofilms. The microbes contained in the biofilms appeared to be attached to each other and to the plant surface by a matrix, most likely composed of bacterial exopolysaccharides. Biofilms were most abundant and of the largest dimensions on cotyledons, sometimes covering close to the entire cotyledon surface (approximately 2 mm in length). Naturally occurring biofilms on sprouts may afford protected colonization sites for human pathogens such as Salmonella and Escherichia coli O157:H7, making their eradication with antimicrobial compounds difficult.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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