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Concept: Salmonella enterica


Salmonella enterica serovar Heidelberg is among the most detected serovars in swine and poultry, ranks among the top five serotypes associated with human salmonellosis and is disproportionately associated with invasive infections and mortality in humans. Salmonella are known to carry plasmids associated with antimicrobial resistance and virulence. To identify plasmid-associated genes in multidrug resistant S. enterica serovar Heidelberg, antimicrobial resistance plasmids from five isolates were sequenced using the 454 LifeSciences pyrosequencing technology. Four of the isolates contained incompatibility group (Inc) A/C multidrug resistance plasmids harboring at least eight antimicrobial resistance genes. Each of these strains also carried a second resistance plasmid including two IncFIB, an IncHI2 and a plasmid lacking an identified Inc group. The fifth isolate contained an IncI1 plasmid, encoding resistance to gentamicin, streptomycin and sulfonamides. Some of the IncA/C plasmids lacked the full concert of transfer genes and yet were able to be conjugally transferred, likely due to the transfer genes carried on the companion plasmids in the strains. Several non-IncA/C resistance plasmids also carried putative virulence genes. When the sequences were compared to previously sequenced plasmids, it was found that while all plasmids demonstrated some similarity to other plasmids, they were unique, often due to differences in mobile genetic elements in the plasmids. Our study suggests that Salmonella Heidelberg isolates harbor plasmids that co-select for antimicrobial resistance and virulence, along with genes that can mediate the transfer of plasmids within and among other bacterial isolates. Prevalence of such plasmids can complicate efforts to control the spread of S. enterica serovar Heidelberg in food animal and human populations.

Concepts: Plasmid, 1984 Rajneeshee bioterror attack, Molecular biology, Salmonella, Bacteria, DNA, Microbiology, Salmonella enterica


Salmonella enterica serotype Typhi (S. Typhi) was estimated to cause over 200,000 deaths and more than 21 million illnesses worldwide, including over 400,000 illnesses in Africa. The current study was conducted in four villages on Pemba Island, Zanzibar, in 2010. We present data on policy makers', health administrators', and village residents' and leaders' perceptions of typhoid fever, and hypothetical and actual health care use among village residents for typhoid fever. Qualitative data provided descriptions of home-based treatment practices and use of western pharmaceuticals, and actual healthcare use for culture-confirmed typhoid fever. Survey data indicate health facility use was associated with gender, education, residency, and perceptions of severity for symptoms associated with typhoid fever. Data have implications for education of policy makers and health administrators, design and implementation of surveillance studies, and community-based interventions to prevent disease outbreaks, decrease risks of complications, and provide information about disease recognition, diagnosis, and treatment.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Typhoid fever, Health, Salmonella, Zanzibar, Health care, Salmonella enterica, Medicine


Salmonella Typhi and Typhimurium diverged only ∼50 000 years ago, yet have very different host ranges and pathogenicity. Despite the availability of multiple whole-genome sequences, the genetic differences that have driven these changes in phenotype are only beginning to be understood. In this study, we use transposon-directed insertion-site sequencing to probe differences in gene requirements for competitive growth in rich media between these two closely related serovars. We identify a conserved core of 281 genes that are required for growth in both serovars, 228 of which are essential in Escherichia coli. We are able to identify active prophage elements through the requirement for their repressors. We also find distinct differences in requirements for genes involved in cell surface structure biogenesis and iron utilization. Finally, we demonstrate that transposon-directed insertion-site sequencing is not only applicable to the protein-coding content of the cell but also has sufficient resolution to generate hypotheses regarding the functions of non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) as well. We are able to assign probable functions to a number of cis-regulatory ncRNA elements, as well as to infer likely differences in trans-acting ncRNA regulatory networks.

Concepts: Evolution, Gene expression, Molecular biology, DNA, Gene, RNA, Salmonella enterica, Genetics


We show in this report that traces of juices released from salad leaves as they became damaged can significantly enhance Salmonella enterica salad leaf colonisation. Salad juices in water increased Salmonella growth by 110% over the un-supplemented control, and in host-like serum based media by more than 2400-fold over controls. In serum based media salad juices induced growth of Salmonella via provision of Fe from transferrin, and siderophore production was found to be integral to the growth induction process. Other aspects relevant to salad leaf colonisation and retention were enhanced, such as motility and biofilm formation, which increased over controls by >220% and 250% respectively; direct attachment to salad leaves increased by >350% when a salad leaf juice was present. In terms of growth and biofilm formation the endogenous salad leaf microbiota was largely unresponsive to leaf juice, suggesting that Salmonella gains a marked advantage from fluids released from salad leaf damage. Salad leaf juices also enhanced pathogen attachment to the salad bag plastic. Over 5 days refrigeration (a typical storage time for bagged salad leaves) even traces of juice within the salad bag fluids increased Salmonella growth in water by up to 280-fold over control cultures, as well as enhancing salad bag colonisation, which could be an unappreciated factor in pathogen fresh produce retention. Collectively, this study shows that exposure to salad leaf juice may contribute to the persistence of Salmonella on salad leaves, and strongly emphasizes the importance of ensuring the microbiological safety of fresh produce.

Concepts: Lettuce, Salmonella enterica, Salmonella, Bacteria, Iron, Leaf vegetable, Leaf, Microbiology


Biocides, such as herbicides, are routinely tested for toxicity but not for sublethal effects on microbes. Many biocides are known to induce an adaptive multiple-antibiotic resistance phenotype. This can be due to either an increase in the expression of efflux pumps, a reduced synthesis of outer membrane porins, or both. Exposures of Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium to commercial formulations of three herbicides-dicamba (Kamba), 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), and glyphosate (Roundup)-were found to induce a changed response to antibiotics. Killing curves in the presence and absence of sublethal herbicide concentrations showed that the directions and the magnitudes of responses varied by herbicide, antibiotic, and species. When induced, MICs of antibiotics of five different classes changed up to 6-fold. In some cases the MIC increased, and in others it decreased. Herbicide concentrations needed to invoke the maximal response were above current food maximum residue levels but within application levels for all herbicides. Compounds that could cause induction had additive effects in combination. The role of soxS, an inducer of the AcrAB efflux pump, was tested in β-galactosidase assays with soxS-lacZ fusion strains of E. coli. Dicamba was a moderate inducer of the sox regulon. Growth assays with Phe-Arg β-naphtylamide (PAβN), an efflux pump inhibitor, confirmed a significant role of efflux in the increased tolerance of E. coli to chloramphenicol in the presence of dicamba and to kanamycin in the presence of glyphosate. Pathways of exposure with relevance to the health of humans, domestic animals, and critical insects are discussed.

Concepts: Herbicide, Bacteria, Antibiotic, Antibiotic resistance, Salmonella enterica


The rise of multidrug-resistant (MDR) bacteria is a growing concern to global health and is exacerbated by the lack of new antibiotics. To treat already pervasive MDR infections, new classes of antibiotics or antibiotic adjuvants are needed. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) have been shown to play a role during antibacterial action; however, it is not yet understood whether ROS contribute directly to or are an outcome of bacterial lethality caused by antibiotics. We show that a light-activated nanoparticle, designed to produce tunable flux of specific ROS, superoxide, potentiates the activity of antibiotics in clinical MDR isolates of Escherichia coli, Salmonella enterica, and Klebsiella pneumoniae. Despite the high degree of antibiotic resistance in these isolates, we observed a synergistic interaction between both bactericidal and bacteriostatic antibiotics with varied mechanisms of action and our superoxide-producing nanoparticles in more than 75% of combinations. As a result of this potentiation, the effective antibiotic concentration of the clinical isolates was reduced up to 1000-fold below their respective sensitive/resistant breakpoint. Further, superoxide-generating nanoparticles in combination with ciprofloxacin reduced bacterial load in epithelial cells infected with S. enterica serovar Typhimurium and increased Caenorhabditis elegans survival upon infection with S. enterica serovar Enteriditis, compared to antibiotic alone. This demonstration highlights the ability to engineer superoxide generation to potentiate antibiotic activity and combat highly drug-resistant bacterial pathogens.

Concepts: Infection, Microbiology, Enterobacteriaceae, Escherichia coli, Salmonella enterica, Antibiotic resistance, Antibiotic, Bacteria


Indigenous populations of the Americas experienced high mortality rates during the early contact period as a result of infectious diseases, many of which were introduced by Europeans. Most of the pathogenic agents that caused these outbreaks remain unknown. Through the introduction of a new metagenomic analysis tool called MALT, applied here to search for traces of ancient pathogen DNA, we were able to identify Salmonella enterica in individuals buried in an early contact era epidemic cemetery at Teposcolula-Yucundaa, Oaxaca in southern Mexico. This cemetery is linked, based on historical and archaeological evidence, to the 1545-1550 CE epidemic that affected large parts of Mexico. Locally, this epidemic was known as ‘cocoliztli’, the pathogenic cause of which has been debated for more than a century. Here, we present genome-wide data from ten individuals for Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica serovar Paratyphi C, a bacterial cause of enteric fever. We propose that S. Paratyphi C be considered a strong candidate for the epidemic population decline during the 1545 cocoliztli outbreak at Teposcolula-Yucundaa.

Concepts: Mexico, Americas, Epidemiology, Bacteria, Salmonella enterica, Indigenous peoples of the Americas, Infectious disease, Microbiology


Increasing numbers of cancer cases generate a great urge for new treatment options. Applying bacteria like Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium for cancer therapy represents an intensively explored option. These bacteria have been shown not only to colonize solid tumors but also to exhibit an intrinsic antitumor effect. In addition, they could serve as tumor-targeting vectors for therapeutic molecules. However, the pathogenic S. Typhimurium strains used for tumor therapy need to be attenuated for safe application. Here, lipopolysaccharide (LPS) deletion mutants (ΔrfaL, ΔrfaG, ΔrfaH, ΔrfaD, ΔrfaP, and ΔmsbB mutants) of Salmonella were investigated for efficiency in tumor therapy. Of such variants, the ΔrfaD and ΔrfaG deep rough mutants exhibited the best tumor specificity and lowest pathogenicity. However, the intrinsic antitumor effect was found to be weak. To overcome this limitation, conditional attenuation was tested by complementing the mutants with an inducible arabinose promoter. The chromosomal integration of the respective LPS biosynthesis genes into the araBAD locus exhibited the best balance of attenuation and therapeutic benefit. Thus, the present study establishes a basis for the development of an applicably cancer therapeutic bacterium.

Concepts: Tumor, Chromosome, Gene, Oncology, DNA, Cancer, Microbiology, Salmonella enterica


Changes in the gut microbiota may underpin many human diseases, but the mechanisms that are responsible for altering microbial communities remain poorly understood. Antibiotic usage elevates the risk of contracting gastroenteritis caused by Salmonella enterica serovars, increases the duration for which patients shed the pathogen in their faeces, and may on occasion produce a bacteriologic and symptomatic relapse. These antibiotic-induced changes in the gut microbiota can be studied in mice, in which the disruption of a balanced microbial community by treatment with the antibiotic streptomycin leads to an expansion of S. enterica serovars in the large bowel. However, the mechanisms by which streptomycin treatment drives an expansion of S. enterica serovars are not fully resolved. Here we show that host-mediated oxidation of galactose and glucose promotes post-antibiotic expansion of S. enterica serovar Typhimurium (S. Typhimurium). By elevating expression of the gene encoding inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) in the caecal mucosa, streptomycin treatment increased post-antibiotic availability of the oxidation products galactarate and glucarate in the murine caecum. S. Typhimurium used galactarate and glucarate within the gut lumen of streptomycin pre-treated mice, and genetic ablation of the respective catabolic pathways reduced S. Typhimurium competitiveness. Our results identify host-mediated oxidation of carbohydrates in the gut as a mechanism for post-antibiotic pathogen expansion.

Concepts: Vasodilation, Salmonella, Gut flora, Nitric oxide synthase, Nitric oxide, Bacteria, Salmonella enterica, Microbiology


Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the industrialized world and represents a tremendous social and economic burden. As conventional therapies fail to provide a sustainable cure for most cancer patients, the emerging unique immune therapeutic approach of bacteria-mediated tumor therapy (BMTT) is marching towards a feasible solution. Although promising results have been obtained with BMTT using various preclinical tumor models, for advancement a major concern is immunity against the bacterial vector itself. Pre-exposure to the therapeutic agent under field conditions is a reasonable expectation and may limit the therapeutic efficacy of BMTT. In the present study, we investigated the therapeutic potential of Salmonella and E. coli vector strains in naïve and immunized tumor bearing mice. Pre-exposure to the therapeutic agent caused a significant aberrant phenotype of the microenvironment of colonized tumors and limited the in vivo efficacy of established BMTT vector strains Salmonella SL7207 and E. coli Symbioflor-2. Using targeted genetic engineering, we generated the optimized auxotrophic Salmonella vector strain SF200 (ΔlpxR9 ΔpagL7 ΔpagP8 ΔaroA ΔydiV ΔfliF) harboring modifications in Lipid A and flagella synthesis. This combination of mutations resulted in an increased immune-stimulatory capacity and as such the strain was able to overcome the efficacy-limiting effects of pre-exposure. Thus, we conclude that any limitations of BMTT concerning anti-bacterial immunity may be countered by strategies that optimize the immune-stimulatory capacity of the attenuated vector strains.

Concepts: Escherichia coli, Proteobacteria, Cancer, Oncology, Therapy, Microbiology, Immune system, Salmonella enterica