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Plant Defense Responses
Article in Press: 2013

Investigation of biocontrol and plant response to reduce interactions of enteric pathogens on leafy greens.

S. M. Markland , H. P. Bais, K. E. Kniel

University of Delaware, Newark, DE, U.S.A.


The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently reported that leafy greens are the number one food commodity (43 %) associated with foodborne illness. The means by which crops become contaminated by mammalian pathogens in the field is an extremely complex issue and whether plants respond to these atypical pathogens remains questionable. The purpose of this study was to investigate the use of potential biocontrol agent Bacillus subtilis FB17 to increase plant defenses toward these pathogens. Microtiter assays were performed to determine the level of inhibition of FB17 on enteric pathogens. Strains in this study included 3 outbreak strains of L. monocytogenesE. coli O157:H7, E. coli O104:H4 and Salmonella Agona. Results indicated that FB17 was able to significantly inhibit all Listeria isolates, one E. coliisolate and none of the Salmonella isolates (p<0.05). FB17 was also inoculated directly onto the roots of spinach plants and leaf samples were taken at 1 h and 3 h post inoculation and observed by SEM to determine the affects of FB17 on spinach stomates. Direct visual observations and measurements of the stomatal aperture opening of SEM samples showed that FB17 was able to induce stomatal closing at 1 h (p=0.03) and 3 h (p=0.0008) post inoculation. These results indicate the potential of FB17 to be used as a biocontrol agent in leafy greens to inhibit the growth foodborne pathogens as well as increase plant defense responses via stomatal closure.




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