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Research Journal of Microbiology
Year: 2017  |  Volume: 12  |  Issue: 1  |  Page No.: 20 - 32

Characterization of Microorganisms from Fresh Produce in Alberta, Canada Reveals Novel Food-spoilage Fungi

M.W. Harding, N. Butler, W. Dmytriw, S. Rajput, D.A. Burke and R.J. Howard    

Abstract: Background and Objective: Microorganisms can colonize or contaminate fruits and vegetables at virtually any point during production, distribution, processing, packaging or food preparation. Microbial contamination of fruits and vegetables can cause food spoilage and human infections. This study was undertaken to collect, isolate and identify commonly occurring food spoilage microorganisms from a wide variety of fresh, direct-market fruits and vegetable in Southern Alberta and to test for the presence of the food-borne pathogen Listeria monocytogenes on a few representative farm operation surfaces. Methodology: The naturally-occurring microorganisms present on produce were amplified by incubation in humid chambers. Microorganism cultures were obtained by aseptically isolating from produce surfaces and sub-culturing on agar petri dishes. Results: Approximately 950 microbial isolates, both bacteria and fungi were collected from fresh produce. Identities of 80 selected isolates were confirmed using molecular analysis. A number of well-known plant pathogenic taxa were identified along with a few species that have not previously been reported to act as spoilage organisms, namely Isaria farinosus, Stenotrophomonas maltophilia, Rahnella aquatilis and Acinetobacter calcoaceticus (syn. Micrococcus calcoaceticus ). Listeria monocytogenes was not detected at any of the Southern Alberta farms sampled. Conclusion: These results indicate that a wide array of microorganisms are capable of causing food spoilage and some have not yet been documented or characterized.

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