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J Food Prot. 2005 Feb;68(2):216-24.

Transmission electron microscopy study of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H7 in apple tissue.

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Department of Food Science, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70803, USA.


We investigated the ability of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H7 to spread in wounded apple tissue by transmission electron microscopy. Red Delicious apples were wounded with an artist knife (7 mm depth) and either inoculated with 10 microl per wound of decimally diluted E. coli O157:H7 or submerged into E. coli O157:H7 suspended in sterile distilled water and then stored at 37 degrees C for 24 h. Transmission electron microscopy showed E. coli O157:H7 formed bacterial aggregates near the apple cell walls, and single cells were in close proximity to the apple cell wall surfaces and to plasma membranes. E. coli O157:H7 presence caused degradation of plasma membranes and release of the cytoplasm contents of the apple cortical cells into the central vacuole. Apple tissue turgor pressure tests showed that the apple cells infected with E. coli O157:H7 isolates were more likely to rupture than the control noninoculated apple cells. E. coli O157:H7 cells grown in apple tissue showed the formation of granules and vesicles within the bacterial cytoplasma and separation of the plasma membranes. Our study shows that E. coli O157:H7 can grow and survive in the apple tissue environment by causing degradation of the apple cellular components.

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