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Transcriptomic analysis of Enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H7 in response to plant extracts

Birse, L. (2015) Transcriptomic analysis of Enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H7 in response to plant extracts. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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Enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) are a group of food and contact-borne pathogens responsible for haemorrhagic colitis. The bacteria can be transmitted by contaminated meat, but importantly, also by plants. The bacteria can use plants as an alternative host, where they associate with both the leaves and the roots. Colonisation in the rhizosphere of plants is thought to be the main habitat for colonisation. Four different plant species, commonly associated with EHEC outbreaks, were infected with EHEC O157:H7 isolates Sakai and TUV 93-0 over ten days to assess the colonisation potential of the bacteria in both the phyllosphere and rhizosphere of plants. The rhizosphere was found to sustain a higher population level of bacteria over time in comparison to the phyllosphere, yet both strains were unable to utilize root exudates for growth. Global gene expression changes of EHEC O157:H7 strain Sakai were measured in response to plant extracts such as leaf lysates, root exudates and leaf cell wall polysaccharides from spinach cultivar Amazon and lettuce cultivar Salinas. Microarrays analysis showed a significant change in expression of 17 % of genes on exposure to leaf lysates of spinach. A more specific response was seen to spinach leaf cell wall polysaccharides with only a 1.5 % change. In contrast, when exposed to lettuce leaf cell wall polysaccharides a higher change of 4.8 % was seen. Genes that were differentially expressed belonged to multiple functional groups, including metabolism, indicating the utilization of plant-specific polysaccharides. Several areas of further investigation have been determined from this project, including the importance of culturing bacterial strains at a relevant temperature, the proposed lack of the type III secretion system in plant colonization by EHEC O157:H7 and the utilization of plant components for growth and persistence in the plant environment.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Holden, N., Jackson, R., Wagstaff, C., Andrews, S. and Toth, I.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Biological Sciences
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences
ID Code:45045
Additional Information:Thesis co-supervised with The James Hutton Institute


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