Research – Effect of Direct Viral–Bacterial Interactions on the Removal of Norovirus From Lettuce

Frontiers in Microbiology

Norovirus Food Safety kswfoodworld

Norovirus (NoV) is the main non-bacterial pathogen causing outbreaks of gastroenteritis and is considered to be the leading cause of foodborne illness. This study aims to determine whether lettuce-encapsulated bacteria can express histo-blood group antigen (HBGA)–like substances to bind to NoV and, if so, to explore its role in protecting NoV from disinfection practices. Fifteen bacterial strains (HBGA-SEBs) were isolated from the lettuce microbiome and studied as they were proved to have the ability to express HBGA-like substances through indirect ELISA detection. By using attachment assay, HBGA-SEBs showed great abilities in carrying NoVs regarding the evaluation of binding capacity, especially for the top four strains from genera WautersiellaSphingobacterium, and Brachybacterium, which could absorb more than 60% of free-flowing NoVs. Meanwhile, the direct viral–bacterial binding between HBGA-like substance-expressing bacteria (HBGA-SEB) and NoVs was observed by TEM. Subsequently, results of simulated environmental experiments showed that the binding of NoVs with HBGA-SEBs did have detrimental effects on NoV reduction, which were evident in short-time high-temperature treatment (90°C) and UV exposure. Finally, by considering the relative abundance of homologous microorganisms of HBGA-SEBs in the lettuce microbiome (ca. 36.49%) and the reduction of NoVs in the simulated environments, we suggested putting extra attention on the daily disinfection of foodborne-pathogen carriers to overcome the detrimental effects of direct viral–bacterial interactions on the reduction of NoVs.

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