Summary of Awards to Date

Movement of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in spinach and dissemination to leafy greens by insects.

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Funding Agency

Fresh Express

Amount Awarded

$245,000.00

Investigator

Jacqueline Fletcher, Ph.D.
Oklahoma State University

Co-Investigator(s)

Wayadande, A., Talley, J., and Gilliland, S.

Summary

The role of insects and other arthropods as potential vectors for E. coli O157:H7 dissemination resulting in contamination of produce is examined in this study. The likelihood of insect transmission of E. coli O157:H7 from animal areas to leafy green produce is not known, although flies have been previously implicated in the transmission of E. coli O157:H7 to cattle, feed, and water. This project will evaluate E. coli O157:H7 internalization patterns and titers in spinach plants, based on the route of internalization, the type of cultivar, and the age of the plant. It will also determine whether key insect species are capable of transmitting or disseminating E. coli to leafy greens. The results will inform the development and prioritization (based on bacterial internalization sites, titer and translocation propensity) of strategies used to prevent or interrupt bacterial dissemination and/or invasion of plant tissues, including choice of cultivar, pest management practices, and bacterial removal or inactivation treatments.