Advances in methods to detect, isolate and quantify foodborne pathogens

Supervised by: Albonetti, Sabrina
Language: en
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Foodborne diseases impact human health and economies worldwide in terms of health care and productivity loss. Prevention is necessary and methods to detect, isolate and quantify foodborne pathogens play a fundamental role, changing continuously to face microorganisms and food production evolution. Official methods are mainly based on microorganisms growth in different media and their isolation on selective agars followed by confirmation of presumptive colonies through biochemical and serological test. A complete identification requires form 7 to 10 days. Over the last decades, new molecular techniques based on antibodies and nucleic acids allow a more accurate typing and a faster detection and quantification. The present thesis aims to apply molecular techniques to improve official methods performances regarding two pathogens: Shiga-like Toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) and Listeria monocytogenes. In 2011, a new strain of STEC belonging to the serogroup O104 provoked a large outbreak. Therefore, the development of a method to detect and isolate STEC O104 is demanded. The first objective of this work is the detection, isolation and identification of STEC O104 in sprouts artificially contaminated. Multiplex PCR assays and antibodies anti-O104 incorporated in reagents for immunomagnetic separation and latex agglutination were employed. Contamination levels of less than 1 CFU/g were detected. Multiplex PCR assays permitted a rapid screening of enriched food samples and identification of isolated colonies. Immunomagnetic separation and latex agglutination allowed a high sensitivity and rapid identification of O104 antigen, respectively. The development of a rapid method to detect and quantify Listeria monocytogenes, a high-risk pathogen, is the second objective. Detection of 1 CFU/ml and quantification of 10–1,000 CFU/ml in raw milk were achieved by a sample pretreatment step and quantitative PCR in about 3h. L. monocytogenes growth in raw milk was also evaluated.