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Variability of Virus Attachment Patterns to Butterhead Lettuce

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Enteric viruses account for most foodborne illness in the United States. The objective of this study was to determine whether the isoelectric point (pI) of viruses such as feline calicivirus (FCV), echovirus 11, and bacteriophages X174 and MS2 had any effect on their attachment to butterhead lettuce. The adsorption of virus particles to the lettuce was variable. Bacteriophage MS2 was the only virus that fit the current Derjaguin-Landau-Verway-Overbeek model of virus attachment. Echovirus 11 had the highest affinity to lettuce surface. Echovirus 11 appeared to exhibit reversible attachment above its pI, whereas below its pI strong adsorption was observed. Adsorption of FCV was at its maximum above its pI. Bacteriophage X174 exhibited the most complex adsorption pattern, with attachment occurring only at the pH extremes (pH 3.0 and 8.0). These results suggest the current model for virus adsorption to sediment does not adequately explain the attachment of virus to lettuce. Importantly, the results indirectly suggest that current sample processing methods to recover viruses from lettuce may differentially select for the recovery of only certain virus types.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Food Safety and Environmental Microbiology Program, Poultry Science Department and Institute of Food Science & Engineering, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843, USA 2: Dynamac Corporation, Kennedy Space Center, Florida, USA 3: U.S. Department of Agriculture Research Service, Eastern Regional Research Center, Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, USA

Publication date: October 1, 2005

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