Composition and Physiological Profiling of Sprout

Composition and Physiological Profiling of Sprout-Associated Microbial Communities
Journal of Food Protection:
Vol. 65, No. 12, pp. 1903-1908.
Anabelle Matos,a Jay L. Garland,b and William F. Fetta

  1. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Eastern Regional Research Center, Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania 19038

  2.  Dynamac Corporation, Mail Code DYN-3, Kennedy Space Center, Florida 32899, USA


The native microfloras of various types of sprouts (alfalfa, clover, sunflower, mung bean, and broccoli sprouts) were examined to assess the relative effects of sprout type and inoculum factors (i.e., sprout-growing facility, seed lot, and inoculation with sprout-derived inocula) on the microbial community structure of sprouts. Sprouts were sonicated for 7 min or hand shaken with glass beads for 2 min to recover native microfloras from the surface, and the resulting suspensions were diluted and plated. The culturable fraction was characterized by the density (log CFU/g), richness (e.g., number of types of bacteria), and diversity (e.g., microbial richness and evenness) of colonies on tryptic soy agar plates incubated for 48 h at 30°C. The relative similarity between sprout-associated microbial communities was assessed with the use of community-level physiological profiles (CLPPs) based on patterns of utilization of 95 separate carbon sources. Aerobic plate counts of 7.96 ± 0.91 log CFU/g of sprout tissue (fresh weight) were observed, with no statistically significant differences in microbial cell density, richness, or diversity due to sprout type, sprout-growing facility, or seed lot. CLPP analyses revealed that the microbial communities associated with alfalfa and clover sprouts are more similar than those associated with the other sprout types tested. Variability among sprout types was more extensive than any differences between microbial communities associated with alfalfa and clover sprouts from different sprout-growing facilities and seed lots. These results indicate that the subsequent testing of biocontrol agents should focus on similar organisms for alfalfa and clover, but alternative types may be most suitable for the other sprout types tested. The inoculation of alfalfa sprouts with communities derived from various sprout types had a significant, source-independent effect on microbial community structure, indicating that the process of inoculation alters the dynamics of community development regardless of the types of organisms involved.