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Comparative Examination of Escherichia coli O157:H7 Survival on Romaine Lettuce and in Soil at Two Independent Experimental Sites

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Little is known about the influence of abiotic factors such as climate and soil chemistry on the survival of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in field lettuce. We applied a nalidixic acid–resistant derivative of strain ATCC 700728 to field-grown romaine lettuce in two regions in Canada characterized by large variances in soil type and climate. Surviving populations in soil and on lettuce leaves were estimated on sorbitol MacConkey agar supplemented with nalidixic acid. Data were fitted with the Weibull decline function to permit comparison of decay rates in the two experimental sites. E. coli O157:H7 populations fell from 105 to <102 CFU/g on leaves, and <103 CFU/g in soil within 7 days after inoculation. Analysis revealed there was no significant difference between decay rates at the two experimental sites in either environment. The results of this study suggest that the inherent ecological fitness of E. coli O157:H7 ATCC 700728 determines the extent of survival in the production environment.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Atlantic Food and Horticulture Research Centre, 32 Main Street, Kentville, Nova Scotia, Canada B4N 1J5;, Email: 2: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre, 4200 Highway 97 South, Summerland, British Columbia, Canada V0H 1Z0 3: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Southern Crop Protection and Food Research Centre, 1391 Sandford Street, London, Ontario, Canada N5V 4T3 4: Health Canada, Bureau of Microbial Hazards, Sir Frederick Banting Research Centre, Postal Locator 2204A1, Tunney's Pasture, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1A 0L2 5: Canadian Food Inspection Agency, 38 Auriga Drive, Unit 8, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K2E 8A5 6: Public Health Agency of Canada, National Microbiology Laboratory, 1015 Arlington Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3E 3R2

Publication date: 2012-03-01

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