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Food Microbiology
Vol. 92, 2020

Bacteriophage biocontrol of Shiga toxigenic Escherichia coli (STEC) O145 biofilms on stainless steel reduces the contamination of beef

ChangbaoWanga,b, HuaHanga, ShoubiaoZhoua, Yan D.Niuc, HechaoDub,c, KimStanfordd, Tim A.McAllisterb

College of Environmental Science and Engineering, Anhui Normal University, Wuhu, Anhui, 241002, PR China


Shiga toxigenic Escherichia coli (STEC) can form biofilms and frequently cause serious foodborne illnesses. A strain of STEC O145:H25 (EC19990166) known to be a strong biofilm former was used to evaluate the efficacy of bacteriophage AZO145A against biofilms formed on stainless steel (SS) coupons. Exposure of STEC O145:H25 to phage AZO145A (1010 PFU/mL) for 2 h resulted in a 4.0 log10 reduction (P < 0.01) of planktonic cells grown in M9 broth at 24 C for 24 h, while reductions were 2.0 log10 CFU/mL if these cells were grown for 48 h or 72 h prior to phage treatment. STEC O145 biofilms formed on SS coupons for 24, 48 and 72 h were reduced (P < 0.01) 2.9, 1.9 and 1.9 log10 CFU/coupon by phages. STEC O145 cells in biofilms were readily transferred from the surface of the SS coupon to beef (3.6 log10 CFU/coupon) even with as little as 10 s of contact with the meat surface. However, transfer of STEC O145 cells from biofilms that formed on SS coupons for 48 h to beef was reduced (P < 0.01) by 3.1 log10 CFU by phage (2 1010 PFU/mL) at 24 C. Scanning electron microscopy revealed that bacterial cells within indentations on the surface of SS coupons were reduced by phage. These results suggest that bacteriophage AZO145A could be effective in reducing the viability of biofilm-adherent STEC O145 on stainless steel in food industry environments.

Graphical abstract

Keywords: Shiga toxigenic Escherichia coli (STEC), Biofilm, Bacteriophage, Beef, Biocontrol, Stainless steel.
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