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Food Microbe Tracker: A Web-Based Tool for Storage and Comparison of Food-Associated Microbes

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Large amounts of molecular subtyping information are generated by the private sector, academia, and government agencies. However, use of subtype data is limited by a lack of effective data storage and sharing mechanisms that allow comparison of subtype data from multiple sources. Currently available subtype databases are generally limited in scope to a few data types (e.g., MLST. net) or are not publicly available (e.g., PulseNet). We describe the development and initial implementation of Food Microbe Tracker, a public Web-based database that allows archiving and exchange of a variety of molecular subtype data that can be cross-referenced with isolate source data, genetic data, and phenotypic characteristics. Data can be queried with a variety of search criteria, including DNA sequences and banding pattern data (e.g., ribotype or pulsed-field gel electrophoresis type). Food Microbe Tracker allows the deposition of data on any bacterial genus and species, bacteriophages, and other viruses. The bacterial genera and species that currently have the most entries in this database are Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, Streptococcus spp., Pseudomonas spp., Bacillus spp., and Paenibacillus spp., with over 40,000 isolates. The combination of pathogen and spoilage microorganism data in the database will facilitate source tracking and outbreak detection, improve discovery of emerging subtypes, and increase our understanding of transmission and ecology of these microbes. Continued addition of subtyping, genetic or phenotypic data for a variety of microbial species will broaden the database and facilitate large-scale studies on the diversity of food-associated microbes.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Food Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA 2: Computational Biology Services Unit, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA 3: Department of Food Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA;, Email:

Publication date: 2013-02-01

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