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Biofilms help Salmonella survive hostile conditions, Virginia Tech researchers say
Date:4/10/2013

can survive on fruits, vegetables or dry products, which are not always cooked," Ponder said.

In moist conditions, Salmonella thrive and reproduce abundantly. If thrust into a dry environment, they cease to reproduce, but turn on genes which produce a biofilm, protecting them from the detrimental environment.

Researchers tested the resilience of the Salmonella biofilm by drying it and storing it in dry milk powder for up to 30 days. At various points it was tested in a simulated gastrointestinal system. Salmonella survived this long- term storage in large numbers but the biofilm Salmonella were more resilient than the free-floating cells treated to the same conditions.

The bacteria's stress response to the dry conditions also made it more likely to cause disease. Biofilms allowed the Salmonella to survive the harsh, acidic environment of the stomach, increasing its chances of reaching the intestines, where infection results in the symptoms associated with food poisoning.

This research may help shape Food and Drug Administration's regulations by highlighting the need for better sanitation and new strategies to reduce biofilm formation on equipment, thus hopefully decreasing the likelihood of another outbreak.


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Contact: Lindsay Key
ltkey@vt.edu
540-231-6594
Virginia Tech
Source:Eurekalert

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