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Mechanisms of Persistence, Survival, and Transmission of Bacterial Foodborne Pathogens in Production Animals

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Food safety of animal commodities is a global issue that not only affects public health, but also has serious consequences on international animal production industries and international trade. For years, research into animal food safety concentrated on surveillance/prevalence-type studies. The explosion of ...

Food safety of animal commodities is a global issue that not only affects public health, but also has serious consequences on international animal production industries and international trade. For years, research into animal food safety concentrated on surveillance/prevalence-type studies. The explosion of new technologies, however, has enabled research to move beyond these simple, basic studies and begin to ask and answer questions of the host-pathogen interface from the molecular, biochemical, cell biological, or immunological perspective of both participants.

The adaptation of pathogenic organisms to the eukaryotic host is a key process that enables the bacterium to survive in a hostile environment. Both bacteria have evolved an intimate relationship with its host that extends to their cellular and molecular levels. Colonization, invasion, and replication of the bacteria in an appropriate host suggest that modification of host functions is central to pathogenesis. Intuitively, this subversion of the cell must be a complex process, since hosts are not inherently programmed to provide an environment conducive to pathogens. Hosts have evolved primary lines of defense as countermeasures to pathogen invasion, establishment, and replication.

As an example, a host has evolved two types of defenses against an infectious agent: resistance and tolerance. Resistance functions to control pathogen invasion and reduce or eliminate the invading pathogen. Research has primarily concentrated on resistance whose mechanisms are, in general, mediated by the immune system as exemplified by vaccine development and genetic selection. On the other hand, tolerance is mediated by different mechanisms that limit the damage caused by a pathogen’s growth without affecting or reducing pathogen numbers or loads. Further work suggests that the intestinal microbiome can be manipulated by the pathogen for its own survival, while alternatively, methods are being devised to manipulate the microbiome to prevent colonization.

Comprehension of food safety and animal production requires the elucidation of the interactions between multiple disciplines and components. Understanding the interactions between the host and pathogens underscores the scope of areas encompassed within food safety. We hope that research provided in this Research Topic will position food safety research in both basic and applied directions. Forces that will remodel the field in the next decade will be derived from public concerns about food safety and the explosive and novel use of new research tools stemming from systems biology (‘omics).


Keywords: Salmonella, Campylobacter, Clostridium, Listeria, Enterococcus, EHEC E. coli, chickens, turkeys, swine, cattle


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