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Chips and SNPs, Bugs and Thugs: A Molecular Sleuthing Perspective

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Recent events both here and abroad have focused attention on the need for ensuring a safe and secure food supply. Although much has been written about the potential of particular select agents in bioterrorism, we must consider seriously the more mundane pathogens, especially those that have been implicated previously in foodborne outbreaks of human disease, as possible agents of bioterrorism. Given their evolutionary history, the enteric pathogens are more diverse than agents such as Bacillus anthracis, Francisella tularensis, or Yersinia pestis. This greater diversity, however, is a double-edged sword; although diversity affords the opportunity for unequivocal identification of an organism without the need for whole-genome sequencing, the same diversity can confound definitive forensic identification if boundaries are not well defined. Here, we discuss molecular approaches used for the identification of Salmonella enterica, Escherichia coli, and Shigella spp. and viral pathogens and discuss the utility of these approaches to the field of microbial molecular forensics.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Division of Molecular Biology (HFS-025), Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Laurel, Maryland 20708, USA

Publication date: June 1, 2005

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    First published in 1937, the Journal of Food Protection®, is a refereed monthly publication. Each issue contains scientific research and authoritative review articles reporting on a variety of topics in food science pertaining to food safety and quality. The Journal is internationally recognized as the leading publication in the field of food microbiology with a readership exceeding 11,000 scientists from 70 countries. The Journal of Food Protection® is indexed in Index Medicus, Current Contents, BIOSIS, PubMed, Medline, and many others.

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