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Effects of Community Versus Single Strain Inoculants on the Biocontrol of Salmonella and Microbial Community Dynamics in Alfalfa Sprouts

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Potential biological control inoculants, Pseudomonas fluorescens 2-79 and microbial communities derived from market sprouts or laboratory-grown alfalfa sprouts, were introduced into alfalfa seeds with and without a Salmonella inoculum. We examined their ability to inhibit the growth of this foodborne pathogen and assess the relative effects of the inoculants on the alfalfa microbial community structure and function. Alfalfa seeds contaminated with a Salmonella cocktail were soaked for 2 h in bacterial suspensions from each inoculant tested. Inoculated alfalfa seeds were grown for 7 days and sampled during days 1, 3, and 7. At each sampling, alfalfa sprouts were sonicated for 7 min to recover microflora from the surface, and the resulting suspensions were diluted and plated on selective and nonselective media. Total bacterial counts were obtained using acridine orange staining, and the percentage culturability was calculated. Phenotypic potential of sprout-associated microbial communities inoculated with biocontrol treatments was assessed using community-level physiological profiles based on patterns of use of 95 separate carbon sources in Biolog plates. Community-level physiological profiles were also determined using oxygensensitive fluorophore in BD microtiter plates to examine functional patterns in these communities. No significant differences in total and mesophilic aerobe microbial cell density or microbial richness resulting from the introduction of inoculants on alfalfa seeds with and without Salmonella were observed. P. fluorescens 2-79 exhibited the greatest reduction in the growth of Salmonella early during alfalfa growth (4.22 log at day 1), while the market sprout inoculum had the reverse effect, resulting in a maximum log reduction (5.48) of Salmonella on day 7. Community-level physiological profiles analyses revealed that market sprout communities peaked higher and faster compared with the other inoculants tested. These results suggest that different modes of actions of single versus microbial consortia biocontrol treatments may be involved.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Eastern Regional Research Center, Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania 19038, USA 2: Dynamac Corporation, Mail Code DYN-3, Kennedy Space Center, Florida 32899, USA

Publication date: January 1, 2005

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