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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

Research project: The role of nitric oxide in the control of biofilm and zoonotic pathogen colonisation of the salad phylloplane

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This PhD studentship aims to investigate the use of the signalling molecule nitric oxide as a novel control strategy for biofilm and zoonotic pathogen colonisation of baby salad leaves using a combination of traditional microbiological approaches and novel microscopy based detection using episcopic differential interference contrast (EDIC) microscopy.

The leaf surface, the phylloplane, is a hostile environment for bacterial colonisation but is nevertheless able to sustain large populations of microorganisms. This has the potential to become problematic if human pathogens become attached to, or incorporated into established biofilms at the phylloplanes of fresh leafy produce intended for human consumption. Indeed, a number of serious cases of food poisoning, mostly in the US, have been traced back to leafy salad crops such as spinach.

The signalling molecule nitric oxide has been shown, at low, non-toxic concentrations, to be active in biofilm physiology and detachment. By investigating the effect of nitric oxide on phylloplane biofilms and the behaviour of pathogens such as Salmonella and Escherichia coli at the phylloplane, this project aims to investigate the potential for use of novel intervention strategies for microbial control at the phylloplane which has potential applications for both food safety and food quality.

Funding
This work is a BBSRC CASE studentship in conjunction with Vitacress Salads, Ltd (2008-2012)

Supervisors
This project is supervised by Professor C William Keevil, and Dr Jeremy Webb

Staff
Principal Investigators: Professor C. W. Keevil, Dr J. S. Webb, Dr S. Rothwell (Vitacress Salads Ltd), Dr G. Clarkson (Vitacress Salads Ltd) PhD Student: Miss N. Gibbins

Related research groups

Molecular and Cellular Biosciences
Environmental Biosciences
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