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Concepts and parameters for modeling the persistence of human enteric pathogens on plants and related foodborne epidemics

Maria Brandl: Produce Safety and Microbiology Research Unit, USDA/ARS

<div>The occurrence of foodborne disease linked to contaminated fruit and vegetables has become an important concern in crop management and public health. Several field studies have demonstrated that human enteric pathogens survive, albeit generally poorly, after their inoculation onto plants, but few clues have emerged regarding the factors that allow for this persistence and its relation to human disease. In order to further our understanding of the ecology of human pathogens on plants and better predict the probability of an outbreak resulting from a contamination event, the heterogeneous nature of plant surfaces at various scales must be considered. Ecological concepts and parameters that may inform a model of the behavior of bacterial foodborne pathogens, such as <em>Salmonella enterica</em> and Shiga toxin-producing <em>E. coli</em>, at a range of scales in a healthy and compromised plant habitat and in the broader plant environment will be discussed.</div>