Internalization of Bioluminescent Escherichia Coli and Salmonella Montevideo in Growing Bean Sprouts

Internalization of bioluminescent Escherichia coli and Salmonella Montevideo in growing bean sprouts.
J Appl Microbiol. 2003;95(4):719-27.
Warriner K, Spaniolas S, Dickinson M, Wright C, Waites WM.
Division of Food Sciences, School of Biosciences, University of Nottingham, Leicestershire, UK.

Aims: Investigate the interaction of bioluminescent Escherichia coli and Salmonella Montevideo with germinating mung bean sprouts.

Methods and Results: E. coli orSalm. Montevideo introduced on mung beans became established both internally and externally on sprouts after the initial 24 h germinating period. In both cases the inoculated bacterium formed the predominant microflora on the sprouted beans throughout. From the bioluminescent profile of inoculated sprouting beans, bacterial growth was found to be in close proximity to the roots but not on the hypocotyls. Clumps (biofilms) of cells with low viability were observed within the grooves between epidermal cells on hypocotyls. Treatment with 20 000 ppm sodium hypochlorite removed the majority of bacteria from the surface of hypocotyls although nonviable single cells were occasionally observed. However, viable bacteria were recovered from the apoplastic fluid, and extracts of surface-sterilized sprouts indicating that the internal bacterial populations had been protected. This was confirmed using in situ -glucuronidase staining of surface-sterilized sprouts where cleaved enzyme substrate (by the action of internalized E. coli) was visualized within the plant vascular system.

Conclusions: E. coli orSalmonella present on seeds become internalized within the subsequent sprouts and cannot be removed by postharvest biocidal washing.

Significance and Impact of the Study: Mung bean production should be carefully controlled to prevent contamination occurring in order to minimize the health risk associated with raw bean sprouts.