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Annu Rev Phytopathol. 2012;50:241-66. doi: 10.1146/annurev-phyto-081211-172936. Epub 2012 May 29.

Interrelationships of food safety and plant pathology: the life cycle of human pathogens on plants.

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Department of Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.


Bacterial food-borne pathogens use plants as vectors between animal hosts, all the while following the life cycle script of plant-associated bacteria. Similar to phytobacteria, Salmonella, pathogenic Escherichia coli, and cross-domain pathogens have a foothold in agricultural production areas. The commonality of environmental contamination translates to contact with plants. Because of the chronic absence of kill steps against human pathogens for fresh produce, arrival on plants leads to persistence and the risk of human illness. Significant research progress is revealing mechanisms used by human pathogens to colonize plants and important biological interactions between and among bacteria in planta. These findings articulate the difficulty of eliminating or reducing the pathogen from plants. The plant itself may be an untapped key to clean produce. This review highlights the life of human pathogens outside an animal host, focusing on the role of plants, and illustrates areas that are ripe for future investigation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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