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Molecular Genomics and Rapid Diagnostics of Plant Pathogens and Food Safety Microorganisms

Peterson, Stephen; Ward, Todd; Rooney, Alejandro (Alex); O'Donnell, Kerry; Kurtzman, Cletus
USDA - Agricultural Research Service
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Molecular genomic methods will be developed for rapid detection, identification and quantitation of food safety microorganisms to allow tracing their sources in the agricultural and general environments to facilitate their control and eradication. Focus will be on plant pathogenic and mycotoxigenic fungi, food spoilage yeasts and foodborne pathogenic bacteria. For foodborne bacterial pathogens, characterize the molecular evolution, population structure and evolutionary history of species within the genera Listeria and Clostridium, determine patterns of selective constraint throughout the genomes of these species, and develop molecular subtyping methods for L. monocytogenes, C. perfringens, and C. botulinum.
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APPROACH: Multiple diagnostic gene sequences will be developed for phytopathogenic and toxigenic species for molds in the genera Aspergillus, Fusarium, Penicillium and their relatives, for food spoilage yeasts, and for foodborne pathogenic bacteria assigned to Listeria and Clostridium. The gene sequences will be used to develop population- and species- specific molecular probes for rapid detection and for understanding the genetic diversity and relationships of each group of pathogens. For foodborne pathogens, establish molecular evolutionary frameworks that elucidate genetic and phenotypic diversity, with particular emphasis on the Genus Listeria and the Genus Clostridium.
Funding Source
Agricultural Research Service
Project number
Bacterial Pathogens
Natural Toxins
Viruses and Prions
Chemical Contaminants