Current Opinions in Biotechnology. 2010;21:131-136
Abstract: Through recent advances in our understanding of microbial:plant interactions it is becoming apparent that human pathogens, principally, Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella are adapted to survive in the plant environment. The aforementioned pathogens have surface epitopes that can bind to plant structures such as stomata to aid attachment. In addition, Salmonella is attracted and able to metabolize nutrients contained within the apoplastic fluid of plants. The question of internalization into the inner tissue of plants remains inconclusive largely because of the problems encountered in detecting low pathogen levels. Nevertheless, once internalized human pathogens can trigger and potentially evade plant defenses that are typically induced by phytopathogens. Although more research in this area is required, the hypothesis that human pathogens have adapted to the plant environment as part of their natural lifecycle appears to be supported.
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This work was supported by the ILSI North America Committee on Food Microbiology.