A New Whole Genome Culture-Independent Diagnostic Test (WG-CIDT) for Rapid Detection of Salmonella in Lettuce

Front Microbiol. 2020 Apr 17:11:602. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2020.00602. eCollection 2020.


The rapid detection of foodborne microbial pathogens contaminating fresh fruits and vegetables during the intervening period between harvest and consumption could revolutionize microbial quality assurance of food usually consumed raw and those with a limited shelf life. We have developed a sensitive, shotgun whole genome sequencing protocol capable of detecting as few as 1 colony forming unit (cfu) of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium spiked on 25 g of lettuce. The Ion Torrent sequencing platform was used to generate reads of globally amplified DNA from microbes recovered from the surface of lettuce followed by bioinformatic analyses of the nucleotide sequences to detect the presence of Salmonella. The test is rapid and sensitive, and appropriate for testing perishable foods, and those consumed raw, for Salmonella contamination. The test has the potential to be universally applicable to any microbial contaminant on lettuce as long as a suitable bioinformatics pipeline is available and validated. A universal test is expected to pave the way for preventive and precision food safety and the re-shaping of the entire spectrum of food safety investigations from the current disease-limiting, reactive procedure to a proactive, disease prevention process.

Keywords: Salmonella; bioinformatics; culture-independent; lettuce; metagenomics; whole genome.