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 Wautersiella, Sphingobacterium, 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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