Mucous is secreted by the lining of the intestinal tract, and can serve as a source of nutrition for bacteria that inhabit the gut. This series of experiments was undertaken in order to identify components of mucus that may allow for preferential growth of pathogenic organisms, namely Escherichia coli O157:H7. Secondarily, we attempted to identify enzymatic treatments that could be implemented as a means of inhibiting pathogen growth.
Findings: We determined that mucus is highly stimulatory to the growth of Escherichia coli O157:H7. The results indicate that the presence of other organisms can be effective in suppressing the proliferation of pathogenic E. coli. Our results also suggest that that future research focusing on enzymes that degrade intestinal mucus may serve as a basis for development of effective intervention strategies.