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Quantifying Colonization Potential of Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157 Using Bovine In Vitro Organ Culture and Immunofluorescent Staining


A robust semiquantitative method for measuring the colonization potential of O157 enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) strains was developed combining an established ex vivo model infection system, bovine in vitro organ culture, with detection of bacteria attached to tissue sections by immunofluorescent assay (bIVOC-IFA) using Quantum dot® nanocrystal technology. The method was tested on ten O157 strains chosen to reflect a diversity of genotypes found in New Zealand based on the novel polymerase chain reaction–binary typing (P-BIT) system. High- and low-colonizing EHEC O157 strains were identified using bIVOC-IFA, with the highest colonizing strain belonging to the pulsed-field gel electrophoresis type most commonly identified from New Zealand beef meat. Furthermore, all of the toxigenic O157 strains exhibiting a low-colonizing phenotype were closely related, belonging to the same P-BIT genotype cluster. Future use of this method to characterize EHEC strains could provide valuable information for risk assessment and risk management interventions aimed at improving food safety along the beef farm to fork continuum.

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