Research – Microbial Dynamics in Mixed-Culture Biofilms of Salmonella Typhimurium and Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Bacteria Surviving Sanitation of Conveyor Belts of Meat Processing Plants



Biofilm formation can lead to the persistence of Salmonella Typhimurium (ST) and E. coli O157:H7 (O157). This study investigated the impact of meat processing surface bacteria (MPB) on biofilm formation by O157 (non-biofilm former; NF) and ST (strong biofilm former; BF). MPB were recovered from the contacting surfaces (CS), non-contacting surfaces (NCS), and roller surfaces (RS) of a beef plant conveyor belt after sanitation. O157 and ST were co-inoculated with MPB (CO), or after a delay of 48 h (IS), into biofilm reactors containing stainless steel coupons and incubated at 15 °C for up to 144 h. Coupons were withdrawn at various intervals and analyzed by conventional plating and 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. The total bacterial counts in biofilms reached approximately 6.5 log CFU/cm2, regardless of MPB type or development mode. The mean counts for O157 and ST under equivalent conditions mostly did not differ (p > 0.05), except for the IS set at 50 h, where no O157 was recovered. O157 and ST were 1.6 ± 2.1% and 4.7 ± 5.0% (CO) and 1.1 ± 2.2% and 2.0 ± 2.8% (IS) of the final population. Pseudomonas dominated the MPB inocula and biofilms, regardless of MPB type or development mode. Whether or not a pathogen is deemed BF or NF in monoculture, its successful integration into complex multi-species biofilms ultimately depends on the presence of certain other residents within the biofilm.

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