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Internalization of Salmonella enterica Serovar Montevideo into Greenhouse Tomato Plants through Contaminated Irrigation Water or Seed Stock

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Tomatoes have been linked to outbreaks of salmonellosis, demonstrating the need to identify sources of contamination. Objectives of this study included determining the ability for Salmonella enterica serovar Montevideo to be internalized into tomatoes from contaminated irrigation water and seed stock, and establishing whether Salmonella Montevideo can survive in fertilizer solutions. Six treatment groups (five plants per group) were irrigated with 350 ml of 7 log CFU/ml of Salmonella Montevideo every 14 days for 70 days, each group receiving an increased number of contaminated water events progressively: group 1 received one contaminated watering at day 0, and group 6 received a total of six contaminated waterings. Group 7 was a control, and group 8 was grown from seeds soaked in 8 log CFU/ml of Salmonella Montevideo for 24 h. All plants were watered daily with uncontaminated water. Three replications were completed. Fruit from every plant, and roots, stems, and leaves of one plant per treatment were sampled. All tomatoes were negative for Salmonella Montevideo; five root samples tested positive. For fertilizer studies, a commercially available fertilizer, two custom mixed and 1.0% dilutions of each (total of six solutions), and sterile water were inoculated with 8 log CFU/ml of Salmonella Montevideo and stored at 25°C. Solutions were sampled at 24, 48, and 72 h. There were no differences (P ≥ 0.05) between survival of Salmonella Montevideo in diluted fertilizers and the control. Results indicate Salmonella Montevideo is unable to contaminate tomato fruit via irrigation water and seed stock but can survive in fertilizer solutions.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Food Science and Technology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia 24060, USA 2: Department of Horticulture, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia 24060, USA

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