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Analysis and Control of Egg Contamination by Salmonella and Other Pathogens after Moving Laying Hens to Enriched Cages and Alternative Housing Systems


Salmonella contamination of eggs is one of the main causes of food poisoning. In order to combat this source of human infection egg producers must ensure their product is free from Salmonella. Animal husbandry may play a significant role in egg contamination and as battery systems of farming will be phased out by 2012 it is important that the new housing methods introduced are assessed for their influence on egg contamination. <P>
The SafeHouse project will collect and analyze data to determine the effect of housing system on egg contamination by zoonotic agents in the field, in order to predict the potential risk to the consumer of the move to more welfare-friendly laying hen housing systems. In addition fundamental research will be done to find out how Salmonella is able to infect eggs. <P>IFR is leading a subprogramme of the project, the main aims of which are to understand how Salmonella infects eggs and the mechanisms it uses to become resistant to antibiotics. For Salmonella to infect eggs it must be able to colonise and survive in the oviduct of the chicken where the eggs are produced. By infecting oviduct loops and cells with large numbers of Salmonella we will identify which genes are important for the survival of Salmonella during its life in the oviduct. <P>Once we have identified the genes involved in Salmonella survival and infection we will mutate them to try and find a mechanism for Salmonella contamination of eggs. We will also investigate the link between allantoin utilisation and the development of antibiotic resistance by Salmonella. Work done in Ivan Rychliks laboratory has shown that strains of Salmonella that carry the main site of antibiotic resistance genes (SG1) are unlikely to be able to use allantoin as a carbon source. Using a combination of RT-PCR, DNA microarrays and reporter gene fusions we will find out the significance of the link between allantoin utilisation and antibiotic resistance.

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