Applied and Environmental Microbiology

The Research Publications track research that is published across national and international peer-reviewed journals. The most recent articles are available ahead of print and searchable by Journal Title, Subject, USDA Grant Funding Agencies or FDA Grant Funding Agencies. The research publications are tracked across five subject areas: Bacterial Pathogens, Chemical Contaminants, Natural Toxins, Parasites, and Viruses.

Tue, 08/04/2020 - 10:01
Traditional fermentations have been widely studied from the microbiological point of view, but little is known from the functional perspective. In this work, nitrogen fixation by free-living nitrogen-fixing bacteria was conclusively demonstrated in pozol, a traditional Mayan beverage prepared with nixtamalized and fermented maize dough. Three aspects of nitrogen fixation were investigated to...
Tue, 07/21/2020 - 10:01
In order to estimate herd-level prevalence of extended-spectrum β-lactamase/AmpC β-lactamase (ESBL/AmpC)- and carbapenemase-producing commensal Escherichia coli in ruminants in the Basque Country (northern Spain), a cross-sectional survey was conducted in 2014 to 2016 in 300 herds using selective isolation. ESBL-/AmpC-producing E. coli was isolated in 32.9% of dairy cattle herds, 9.6%...
Tue, 07/21/2020 - 10:01
Anaerobic degradation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons has been investigated mostly with naphthalene as a model compound. Naphthalene degradation by sulfate-reducing bacteria proceeds via carboxylation to 2-naphthoic acid, formation of a coenzyme A thioester, and subsequent reduction to 5,6,7,8-tetrahydro-2-naphthoyl-coenzyme A (THNCoA), which is further reduced to hexahydro-2-naphthoyl-CoA (...
Tue, 07/21/2020 - 10:01
In developing countries, Shigella flexneri is the most common enteric pathogen causing bacillary dysentery. Biofilm formation by S. flexneri can cause the emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains, which poses serious threats to food safety and human health. In this study, the effects of Lactobacillus plantarum 12 exopolysaccharides (L-EPSs) and S. flexneri exopolysaccharides (S-EPSs) on S....
Tue, 07/21/2020 - 10:01
Over a 2-year period, drag swabs of orchard soil surface and air, soil, and almond leaf samples were collected in an almond orchard adjacent to (35 m from the first row of trees) and downwind from a poultry operation and in two almond orchards (controls) that were surrounded by other orchards. Samples were evaluated for aerobic plate count, generic Escherichia coli, other coliforms, the presence...
Fri, 07/03/2020 - 10:01
According to the World Health Organization, arsenic is the water contaminant that affects the largest number of people worldwide. To limit its impact on the population, inexpensive, quick, and easy-to-use systems of detection are required. One promising solution could be the use of whole-cell biosensors, which have been extensively studied and could meet all these criteria even though they often...
Fri, 07/03/2020 - 10:01
Listeria monocytogenes is a pathogen mostly associated with the consumption of ready-to-eat foods and can cause severe disease and death. It can be introduced into food chains from raw materials, but often the contamination source is the food production environment, where certain clones can persist for years. In the meat chain, ST9 is one of the most commonly encountered L. monocytogenes sequence...
Fri, 07/03/2020 - 10:01
The aim of this research was to investigate the efficacy of the duty ratio and applied voltage in the inactivation of pathogens in soybean curd by pulsed ohmic heating (POH). The heating rate of soybean curd increased rapidly as the applied voltage increased, although the duty ratio did not affect the temperature profile. We supported this result by verifying that electrical conductivity...
Thu, 06/18/2020 - 10:01
The Gram-positive pathogen Listeria monocytogenes can be subdivided into at least 12 different serovars, based on the differential expression of a set of somatic and flagellar antigens. Of note, strains belonging to serovars 1/2a, 1/2b, and 4b cause the vast majority of foodborne listeriosis cases and outbreaks. The standard protocol for serovar determination involves an agglutination method...
Thu, 06/18/2020 - 10:01
Decontamination practices, which often involve thermal treatments, are routinely performed in beef packing plants and have generally improved the safety of meat in North America. We investigated whether Escherichia coli in the beef production chain is becoming more heat resistant due to those treatments. Cattle isolates (n = 750) included seven serogroups (O157, O103, O111, O121, O145, O26, and...
Thu, 06/18/2020 - 10:01
The microbiota plays a vital role in maintaining gut health and influences the overall performance of chickens. Most gut microbiota-related studies have been performed in broilers, which have different microbial communities compared to those of layers. The normal gut microbiota of laying chickens is dominated by Proteobacteria, Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes, Fusobacteria, and Actinobacteria at the...
Thu, 06/18/2020 - 10:01
Livestock-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus sequence type (ST) 398 (LA-MRSA ST398) is a genetic lineage for which pigs are regarded as the main reservoir. An increasing prevalence of LA-MRSA ST398 has been reported in areas with high livestock density throughout Europe. In this study, we investigated the drivers contributing to the introduction and spread of LA-MRSA ST398...
Thu, 06/18/2020 - 10:01
Dissemination of extended-spectrum-cephalosporin (ESC)-resistant Salmonella, especially extended-spectrum-β-lactamase (ESBL)-producing Salmonella, is a concern worldwide. Here, we assessed Salmonella carriage by food workers in Japan to clarify the prevalence of ESC-resistant Salmonella harboring blaCTX-M. We then characterized the genetic features, such as transposable elements, of blaCTX-M...
Thu, 06/18/2020 - 10:01
Food safety is a new area for novel applications of metagenomics analysis, which not only can detect and subtype foodborne pathogens in a single workflow but may also produce additional information with in-depth analysis capabilities. In this study, we applied a quasimetagenomic approach by combining short-term enrichment, immunomagnetic separation (IMS), multiple-displacement amplification (MDA...
Thu, 06/18/2020 - 10:01
The "Moore swab" is a classic environmental surveillance tool whereby a gauze pad tied with string is suspended in flowing water or wastewater contaminated with human feces and harboring enteric pathogens that pose a human health threat. In contrast to single volume "grab" samples, Moore swabs act as continuous filters to "trap" microorganisms, which are subsequently isolated and confirmed using...
Wed, 06/03/2020 - 03:36
Carboxylesterase PytH, isolated from the pyrethroid-degrading bacterium Sphingobium faniae JZ-2, could rapidly hydrolyze the ester bond of a wide range of pyrethroid pesticides, including permethrin, fenpropathrin, cypermethrin, fenvalerate, deltamethrin, cyhalothrin, and bifenthrin. To elucidate the catalytic mechanism of PytH, we report here the crystal structures of PytH with bifenthrin (BIF)...
Wed, 06/03/2020 - 03:36
It is important for the poultry industry to maximize product safety and quality by understanding the connection between bacterial diversity on chicken carcasses throughout poultry processing to the end of shelf life and the impact of the local processing environment. Enumeration of total aerobic bacteria, Campylobacter and Pseudomonas, and 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing were used to evaluate...
Wed, 06/03/2020 - 03:36
Noroviruses (NoV) are responsible for many shellfish outbreaks. Purification processes may be applied to oysters before marketing to decrease potential fecal pollution. This step is rapidly highly effective in reducing Escherichia coli; nevertheless, the elimination of virus genomes has been described to be much slower. It is therefore important to identify (i) the purification conditions that...
Wed, 05/20/2020 - 03:33
Ornithobacterium rhinotracheale is a causative agent of respiratory tract infections in avian hosts worldwide but is a particular problem for commercial turkey production. Little is known about the ecologic and evolutionary dynamics of O. rhinotracheale, which makes prevention and control of this pathogen a challenge. The purpose of this study was to gain insight into the genetic relationships...
Wed, 05/20/2020 - 03:33
Bacillus cereus sensu lato comprises Gram-positive spore-forming bacteria producing toxins associated with foodborne diseases. Three pore-forming enterotoxins, nonhemolytic enterotoxin (Nhe), hemolysin BL (Hbl), and cytotoxin K (CytK), are considered the primary factors in B. cereus sensu lato diarrhea. The aim of this study was to determine the potential risk of enterotoxicity among soil B....
Wed, 05/20/2020 - 03:33
Fusarium graminearum, the main pathogenic fungus causing Fusarium head blight (FHB), produces deoxynivalenol (DON), a key virulence factor, which is synthesized in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Sey1/atlastin, a dynamin-like GTPase protein, is known to be required for homotypic fusion of ER membranes, but the functions of this protein are unknown in pathogenic fungi. Here, we characterized Sey1/...
Wed, 05/20/2020 - 03:33
While only a subset of Vibrio cholerae strains are human diarrheal pathogens, all are aquatic organisms. In this environment, they often persist in close association with arthropods. In the intestinal lumen of the model arthropod Drosophila melanogaster, methionine and methionine sulfoxide decrease susceptibility to V. cholerae infection. In addition to its structural role in proteins, methionine...
Wed, 05/20/2020 - 03:33
The pathogen Listeria monocytogenes causes listeriosis, a severe foodborne disease associated with high mortality. Rapid and sensitive methods are required for specific detection of this pathogen during food production. Bioluminescence-based reporter bacteriophages are genetically engineered viruses that infect their host cells with high specificity and transduce a heterologous luciferase gene...
Wed, 05/20/2020 - 03:33
Microbial production of the neurotoxin methylmercury (MeHg) is a significant health and environmental concern, as it can bioaccumulate and biomagnify in the food web. A chalkophore or a copper-binding compound, termed methanobactin (MB), has been shown to form strong complexes with mercury [as Hg(II)] and also enables some methanotrophs to degrade MeHg. It is unknown, however, if Hg(II) binding...
Wed, 05/06/2020 - 03:35
Vibralactone, a hybrid compound derived from phenols and a prenyl group, is a strong pancreatic lipase inhibitor with a rare fused bicyclic β-lactone skeleton. Recently, a researcher reported a vibralactone derivative (compound C1) that caused inhibition of pancreatic lipase with a half-maximal inhibitory concentration of 14 nM determined by structure-based optimization, suggesting a...
Wed, 05/06/2020 - 03:35
Bacteria accumulate small, organic compounds called compatible solutes via uptake from the environment or biosynthesis from available precursors to maintain the turgor pressure of the cell in response to osmotic stress. The halophile Vibrio parahaemolyticus has biosynthesis pathways for the compatible solutes ectoine (encoded by ectABC-asp_ect) and glycine betaine (encoded by betIBA-proXWV), four...
Sun, 04/19/2020 - 03:31
Atmospheric cold plasma (ACP) treatment is an emerging food technology for product safety and quality retention, shelf-life extension, and sustainable processing. The activated chemical species of ACP can act rapidly against microorganisms without leaving chemical residues on food surfaces. The main objectives of this study were to investigate the efficiency and mechanisms of inactivation of...
Sun, 04/19/2020 - 03:31
Conjugation is one of the main mechanisms involved in the spread and maintenance of antibiotic resistance in bacterial populations. We recently showed that the emerging macrolide resistance in the soilborne equine and zoonotic pathogen Rhodococcus equi is conferred by the erm(46) gene carried on the 87-kb conjugative plasmid pRErm46. Here, we investigated the conjugal transferability of pRErm46...
Sun, 04/19/2020 - 03:31
Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) strains are important zoonotic foodborne pathogens, causing diarrhea, hemorrhagic colitis, and life-threatening hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) in humans. However, antibiotic treatment of STEC infection is associated with an increased risk of HUS. Therefore, there is an urgent need for early and effective therapeutic strategies. Here, we isolated...
Sun, 04/19/2020 - 03:31
This study was aimed at assessing whether the repeated exposure of 12 strains of Salmonella spp., Escherichia coli, and Listeria monocytogenes to alternative nonthermal decontamination techniques with UV light (UV-C) and nonthermal atmospheric plasma (NTAP) may cause the emergence of variants showing increased resistance to clinically relevant antibiotics (ampicillin, cefotaxime, ciprofloxacin,...
Sun, 04/19/2020 - 03:31
Campylobacter spp. have been recognized as major foodborne pathogens worldwide. An increasing frequency of antibiotic-resistant pathogens, including Campylobacter spp., have been identified to transmit from food products to humans and cause severe threats to public health. To better mitigate the antibiotic resistance crisis, rapid detection methods are required to provide timely antimicrobial...
Sun, 04/19/2020 - 03:31
The four regulatory genes fscR1 to fscR4 in Streptomyces sp. strain FR-008 form a genetic arrangement that is widely distributed in macrolide-producing bacteria. Our previous work has demonstrated that fscR1 and fscR4 are critical for production of the polyene antibiotic candicidin. In this study, we further characterized the roles of the other two regulatory genes, fscR2 and fscR3, focusing on...
Thu, 04/02/2020 - 03:22
This study examined the microbicidal activity of 222-nm UV radiation (UV222), which is potentially a safer alternative to the 254-nm UV radiation (UV254) that is often used for surface decontamination. Spores and/or growing and stationary-phase cells of Bacillus cereus, Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus thuringiensis, Staphylococcus aureus, and Clostridioides difficile and a herpesvirus were all killed...
Thu, 04/02/2020 - 03:22
Nisin A is a bacteriocin produced by Lactococcus lactis and is widely used as a food preservative. Staphylococcus aureus has the BraRS-VraDE system that provides resistance against low concentrations of nisin A. BraRS is a two-component system that induces the expression of the ABC transporter VraDE. Previously, we isolated a highly nisin A-resistant strain with increased VraDE expression due to...
Thu, 04/02/2020 - 03:22
Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris MG1363 is a model for the lactic acid bacteria (LAB) used in the dairy industry. The proteolytic system, consisting of a proteinase, several peptide and amino acid uptake systems, and a host of intracellular peptidases, plays a vital role in nitrogen metabolism and is of eminent importance for flavor formation in dairy products. The dipeptidase PepV functions in...
Thu, 04/02/2020 - 03:22
There is a growing need for a highly stable system to allow the production of biologics for diagnoses and therapeutic interventions on demand that could be used in extreme environments. Among the variety of biologics, nanobodies (Nbs) derived from single-chain variable antibody fragments from camelids have attracted great attention in recent years due to their small size and great stability with...
Thu, 04/02/2020 - 03:22
Salmonella enterica is a foodborne pathogen often leading to gastroenteritis and is commonly acquired by consumption of contaminated food of animal origin. However, frequency of outbreaks linked to the consumption of fresh or minimally processed food of nonanimal origin is increasing. New infection routes of S. enterica by vegetables, fruits, nuts, and herbs have to be considered. This leads to...
Thu, 04/02/2020 - 03:22
In a structured survey of all major chicken-meat producers in Australia, we investigated the antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and genomic characteristics of Campylobacter jejuni (n = 108) and C. coli (n = 96) from cecal samples of chickens at slaughter (n = 200). The majority of the C. jejuni (63%) and C. coli (86.5%) samples were susceptible to all antimicrobials. Fluoroquinolone resistance was...
Thu, 04/02/2020 - 03:22
The wastewater of livestock slaughterhouses is considered a source of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria with clinical relevance and may thus be important for their dissemination into the environment. To get an overview of their occurrence and characteristics, we investigated process water (n = 50) from delivery and unclean areas as well as wastewater (n = 32) from the in-house wastewater treatment...
Thu, 03/19/2020 - 03:23
In Norway, the use of quinolones in livestock populations is very low, and prophylactic use is prohibited. Despite this, quinolone-resistant Escherichia coli (QREC) isolates are present at low levels in several animal species. The source of these QREC isolates is unknown. The aim of this study was to characterize and compare QREC isolates from different animal species to identify putative factors...
Thu, 03/19/2020 - 03:23
Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella enterica are leading causes of foodborne outbreaks linked to fresh produce. Both species can enter the "viable but nonculturable" (VBNC) state that precludes detection using conventional culture-based or molecular methods. In this study, we assessed propidium monoazide-quantitative PCR (PMA-qPCR) assays and novel methods combining PMA and loop-mediated...
Thu, 03/19/2020 - 03:23
Campylobacteriosis is the leading foodborne bacterial diarrheal illness in many countries, with up to 80% of human cases attributed to the avian reservoir. The only control strategies currently available are stringent on-farm biosecurity and carcass treatments. Heritable differences in the resistance of chicken lines to Campylobacter colonization have been reported and resistance-associated...
Thu, 03/19/2020 - 03:23
Klebsiella pneumoniae is of growing public health concern due to the emergence of strains that are multidrug resistant, virulent, or both. Taxonomically, the K. pneumoniae complex ("Kp") includes seven phylogroups, with Kp1 (K. pneumoniae sensu stricto) being medically prominent. Kp can be present in environmental sources such as soils and vegetation, which could act as reservoirs of animal and...
Thu, 03/19/2020 - 03:23
A prominent feature of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) is their ability to inhibit growth of spoilage organisms in food, but hitherto research efforts to establish the mechanisms underlying bioactivity focused on the production of antimicrobial compounds by LAB. We show, in this study, that competitive exclusion, i.e., competition for a limited resource by different organisms, is a major mechanism of...
Tue, 03/03/2020 - 03:32
Diabetic foot ulcer (DFU) is a major complication of diabetes with high morbidity and mortality rates. The pathogenesis of DFUs is governed by a complex milieu of environmental and host factors. The empirical treatment is initially based on wound severity since culturing and profiling the antibiotic sensitivity of wound-associated microbes is time-consuming. Hence, a thorough and rapid analysis...
Tue, 03/03/2020 - 03:32
Whole-genome sequencing (WGS) is becoming the standard method for subtyping Listeria monocytogenes. Interpretation of WGS data for isolates from foods and associated environments is, however, challenging due to a lack of detailed data on Listeria evolution in processing facilities. Here, we used previously collected WGS data for 40 L. monocytogenes isolates obtained from a cold-smoked salmon...
Tue, 03/03/2020 - 03:32
Little is known about the public health risks associated with natural creek sediments that are affected by runoff and fecal pollution from agricultural and livestock practices. For instance, the persistence of foodborne pathogens such as Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) originating from these practices remains poorly quantified. Towards closing these knowledge gaps, the water-...
Tue, 03/03/2020 - 03:32
Changes with time of a population of Bacillus weihenstephanensis KBAB4 and Bacillus licheniformis AD978 dormant spores into germinated spores and vegetative cells were followed by flow cytometry, at pH ranges of 4.7 to 7.4 and temperatures of 10°C to 37°C for B. weihenstephanensis and 18°C to 59°C for B. licheniformis. Incubation conditions lower than optimal temperatures or pH...
Tue, 03/03/2020 - 03:32
Increasing evidence exists for the role that cattle play in the epidemiology of campylobacteriosis. In this study, the prevalence and distribution of Campylobacter jejuni were longitudinally examined at the subspecies level in the beef cattle production continuum. Animals were subdivided into two groups: those that were not administered antibiotics and those that were administered the...
Tue, 03/03/2020 - 03:32
Listeria monocytogenes causes the severe foodborne illness listeriosis and survives in food-associated environments due to its high stress tolerance. A data assembly and analysis protocol for microbial growth experiments was compiled to elucidate the strain variability of L. monocytogenes stress tolerance. The protocol includes measurement of growth ability under stress (step 1), selection of a...

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