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Attachment of Shiga Toxigenic Escherichia coli to Beef Muscle and Adipose Tissue

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Shiga toxigenic Escherichia coli (STEC) serotypes are important foodborne pathogens that cause gastrointestinal disease worldwide. An understanding of how STEC strains attach to surfaces may provide insight into the potential persistence of and contamination with STEC in food environments. The initial attachment of a selection of STEC serotypes to beef muscle and adipose tissue was evaluated for isolates grown in planktonic and sessile culture. Initial experiments were performed to determine whether attachment differed among STEC strains and between the two modes of growth. Viable counts were obtained for loosely and strongly attached cells, and the strength of attachment (Sr ) was calculated. All bacterial isolates grown in sessile culture attached in higher numbers to muscle and adipose tissue than did bacteria in planktonic cultures. For all attachment assays performed, mean concentrations for loosely attached cells were consistently higher than concentrations for strongly attached cells. The mean concentrations for strongly attached bacteria for planktonic and sessile cultures were significantly higher (P < 0.05) on adipose than on muscle tissue. However, some strains of STEC, particularly those from sessile culture, did not differ in their attachment to muscle or adipose tissue. Sr values were not significantly different (P > 0.05) among STEC isolates for all assays. No correlation was found between bacterial hydrophobicity and surface charge values (previously determined) and production of surface structures, viable counts, and Sr values. STEC grown in planktonic and sessile culture seems to behave differently with respect to attachment to muscle and adipose tissue. Cells in sessile culture may have a greater potential to strongly attach to meat surfaces.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Food Science Australia, Brisbane, Queensland 4173, Australia; School of Land and Food Sciences, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland 4067, Australia 2: Food Science Australia, Brisbane, Queensland 4173, Australia

Publication date: May 1, 2006

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