Caenorhabditis elegans as a model for free-living nematodes in vectoring human pathogenic bacteria to fruits and vegetables
Caldwell, Krishaun Na'Nette
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A microbivorous free-living nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans, was studied to determine its potential role as a vector for preharvest contamination of fruits and vegetables. Propensity of the nematode to be attracted to strains of Escherichia coli O157:H7, serotypes of Salmonella, and strains of Listeria monocytogenes was investigated. The nematode was attracted to all test strains and serotypes and survived and reproduced in the presence of these bacteria for up to 7 days. The potential role freeliving nematodes may play in vectoring S. Poona to cantaloupe rind was also investigated. C. elegans, and perhaps, other free-living nematodes may play a significant role in the preharvest dispersal of incidental human pathogens in soil to fruits and vegetables and treatment with chemical sanitizers may not be effective in reducing populations of S. Poona.