Research – Low-Temperature Virus vB_EcoM_VR26 Shows Potential in Biocontrol of STEC O26:H11

MDPI

Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O26:H11 is an emerging foodborne pathogen of growing concern. Since current strategies to control microbial contamination in foodstuffs do not guarantee the elimination of O26:H11, novel approaches are needed. Bacteriophages present an alternative to traditional biocontrol methods used in the food industry. Here, a previously isolated bacteriophage vB_EcoM_VR26 (VR26), adapted to grow at common refrigeration temperatures (4 and 8 °C), has been evaluated for its potential as a biocontrol agent against O26:H11. After 2 h of treatment in broth, VR26 reduced O26:H11 numbers (p < 0.01) by > 2 log10 at 22 °C, and ~3 log10 at 4 °C. No bacterial regrowth was observed after 24 h of treatment at both temperatures. When VR26 was introduced to O26:H11-inoculated lettuce, ~2.0 log10 CFU/piece reduction was observed at 4, 8, and 22 °C. No survivors were detected after 4 and 6 h at 8 and 4 °C, respectively. Although at 22 °C, bacterial regrowth was observed after 6 h of treatment, O26:H11 counts on non-treated samples were >2 log10 CFU/piece higher than on phage-treated ones (p < 0.02). This, and the ability of VR26 to survive over a pH range of 3–11, indicates that VR26 could be used to control STEC O26:H11 in the food industry. View Full-Text

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