Leafy green vegetables have been identified as a source of foodborne illnesses worldwide over the past decade. Human enteric pathogens, such as Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella, have been implicated in numerous food poisoning outbreaks associated with the consumption of fresh produce. An understanding of the mechanisms responsible for the establishment of pathogenic bacteria in or on vegetable plants is critical for understanding and ameliorating this problem as well as ensuring the safety of our food supply. While previous studies have described the growth and survival of enteric pathogens in the environment and also the risk factors associated with the contamination of vegetables, the molecular events involved in the colonization of fresh produce by enteric pathogens are just beginning to be elucidated. This review summarizes recent findings on the interactions of several bacterial pathogens with leafy green vegetables. Changes in gene expression linked to the bacterial attachment and colonization of plant structures are discussed in light of their relevance to plant-microbe interactions. We propose a mechanism for the establishment and association of enteric pathogens with plants and discuss potential strategies to address the problem of foodborne illness linked to the consumption of leafy green vegetables.
2014 by Japanese Society of Microbial Ecology / Japanese Society of Soil Microbiology / Taiwan Society of Microbial Ecology