DOI: 10.3390/microorganisms11082072 ISSN:

Sporadic Detection of Escherichia coli O104:H4 Strain C227/11Φcu in the Edible Parts of Lamb’s Lettuce Cultured in Contaminated Agricultural Soil Samples

Katharina Detert, Herbert Schmidt
  • Virology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Microbiology

In the current study, we demonstrate that E. coli O104:H4 strain C227/11Φcu, a derivative of the 2011 enterohemorrhagic/enteroaggregative (EHEC/EAEC) E. coli outbreak strain, migrated into the edible portion of lamb’s lettuce plants upon contamination of the surrounding soil. Seeds were surface-sterilized and cultivated on Murashige-Skoog agar or in autoclaved agricultural soil. Migration into the edible portions was investigated by inoculating the agar or soil close to the plants with 108 colony-forming units (CFU). The edible parts, which did not come into contact with the contaminated medium or soil, were quantitatively analyzed for the presence of bacteria after 2, 4 and 8 weeks. Strain C227/11Φcu could colonize lamb’s lettuce when contamination of medium or soil occurs. The highest recovery rate (27%) was found for lettuce cultivated in agar, and up to 1.6 × 103 CFU/g lettuce was detected. The recovery rate was lower for the soil samples (9% and 13.5%). Although the used contamination levels were high, migration of C227/11Φcu from the soil into the edible parts was demonstrated. This study further highlights the risk of crop plant contamination with pathogenic E. coli upon soil contamination.

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