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Metagenomic Characterization of Bacterial Communities on Ready-to-Eat Vegetables and Effects of Household Washing on their Diversity and Composition

1
School of Economics, Business Administration and Legal Studies, International Hellenic University, 57001 Thermi, Greece
2
Hellenic Food Safety Authority (EFET), 57001 Pylaia, Greece
3
School of Agriculture, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, 54124 Thessaloniki, Greece
4
Department of Biological Applications and Technology, University of Ioannina, 45100 Ioannina, Greece
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Pathogens 2019, 8(1), 37; https://doi.org/10.3390/pathogens8010037
Received: 8 February 2019 / Revised: 14 March 2019 / Accepted: 15 March 2019 / Published: 19 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Waterborne Zoonotic Pathogens)
Ready-to-eat (RTE) leafy salad vegetables are considered foods that can be consumed immediately at the point of sale without further treatment. The aim of the study was to investigate the bacterial community composition of RTE salads at the point of consumption and the changes in bacterial diversity and composition associated with different household washing treatments. The bacterial microbiomes of rocket and spinach leaves were examined by means of 16S rRNA gene high-throughput sequencing. Overall, 886 Operational Taxonomic Units (OTUs) were detected in the salads’ leaves. Proteobacteria was the most diverse high-level taxonomic group followed by Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes. Although they were processed at the same production facilities, rocket showed different bacterial community composition than spinach salads, mainly attributed to the different contributions of Proteobacteria and Bacteroidetes to the total OTU number. The tested household decontamination treatments proved inefficient in changing the bacterial community composition in both RTE salads. Furthermore, storage duration of the salads at refrigeration temperatures affected the microbiome, by decreasing the bacterial richness and promoting the dominance of psychrotropic bacteria. Finally, both salads were found to be a reservoir of opportunistic human pathogens, while washing methods usually applied at home proved to be inefficient in their removal. View Full-Text
Keywords: Ready-to-eat salads; 16S rRNA gene; illumina; household treatments; fresh produce; foodborne pathogens; Pseudomonas Ready-to-eat salads; 16S rRNA gene; illumina; household treatments; fresh produce; foodborne pathogens; Pseudomonas
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Tatsika, S.; Karamanoli, K.; Karayanni, H.; Genitsaris, S. Metagenomic Characterization of Bacterial Communities on Ready-to-Eat Vegetables and Effects of Household Washing on their Diversity and Composition. Pathogens 2019, 8, 37.

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