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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2013 Mar;79(6):1813-20. doi: 10.1128/AEM.02855-12. Epub 2013 Jan 11.

Salmonella and Escherichia coli O157:H7 survival in soil and translocation into leeks (Allium porrum) as influenced by an arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus (Glomus intraradices).

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Food Safety and Intervention Technologies Research Unit, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Eastern Regional Research Center, Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, USA.


A study was conducted to determine the influence of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi on Salmonella and enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H7 (EHEC) in autoclaved soil and translocation into leek plants. Six-week-old leek plants (with [Myc+] or without [Myc-] AM fungi) were inoculated with composite suspensions of Salmonella or EHEC at ca. 8.2 log CFU/plant into soil. Soil, root, and shoot samples were analyzed for pathogens on days 1, 8, 15, and 22 postinoculation. Initial populations (day 1) were ca. 3.1 and 2.1 log CFU/root, ca. 2.0 and 1.5 log CFU/shoot, and ca. 5.5 and 5.1 CFU/g of soil for Salmonella and EHEC, respectively. Enrichments indicated that at days 8 and 22, only 31% of root samples were positive for EHEC, versus 73% positive for Salmonella. The mean Salmonella level in soil was 3.4 log CFU/g at day 22, while EHEC populations dropped to ≤ 0.75 log CFU/g by day 15. Overall, Salmonella survived in a greater number of shoot, root, and soil samples, compared with the survival of EHEC. EHEC was not present in Myc- shoots after day 8 (0/16 samples positive); however, EHEC persisted in higher numbers (P = 0.05) in Myc+ shoots (4/16 positive) at days 15 and 22. Salmonella, likewise, survived in statistically higher numbers of Myc+ shoot samples (8/8) at day 8, compared with survival in Myc- shoots (i.e., only 4/8). These results suggest that AM fungi may potentially enhance the survival of E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella in the stems of growing leek plants.

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