ABSTRACT

Escherichia albertii is an emerging foodborne pathogen. The source of the E. albertii infection in most foodborne outbreaks is unknown because E. albertii is difficult to isolate from suspected food or water. E. albertii has a broad host range among birds and can be isolated from chicken meat. In this study, PCR assay, enrichment, and isolation conditions for detecting E. albertii in chicken meat were evaluated. The growth of 47 E. albertii strains isolated in Japan between 1994 and 2018 and a type strain was evaluated in modified EC broth (mEC) and mEC supplemented with novobiocin (NmEC) and on media containing carbohydrates. The enzyme used for the nested PCR, the enrichment conditions, the most-probable-number (MPN) method, and agar media were also evaluated with chicken meat. To distinguish E. albertii from presumptive non–E. albertii bacteria, desoxycholate hydrogen sulfide lactose agar (DHL), MacConkey agar (MAC), and these agars supplemented with rhamnose and xylose (RX-DHL and RX-MAC, respectively) were used. All E. albertii strains grew in mEC and NmEC at both 36 and 42°C and did not utilize rhamnose, sucrose, or xylose. Both the first and nested PCRs with TaKaRa Ex Taq, which was 10 to 100 times more active than the other enzymes, produced positive results in enrichment culture of 25 g of chicken meat inoculated with >20 CFU of E. albertii and incubated in mEC and NmEC at 42°C for 22 ± 2 h. Thus, the first PCR was sensitive enough to detect E. albertii in chicken meat. The MPN values in mEC and NmEC were 0.5- and 2.3-fold higher than the original inoculated bacterial levels, respectively. E. albertii in chicken meat was more efficiently isolated with enrichment in NmEC (70.1 to 100%) and plating onto RX-DHL (85.4%) and RX-MAC (100%) compared with enrichment in mEC (53.5 to 83.3%) and plating onto DHL (70.1%) and MAC (92.4%). Thus, optimized conditions for the surveillance of E. albertii contamination in food and investigations of E. albertii outbreaks, including the infectious dose, were clarified.

HIGHLIGHTS
  • Nested PCR sensitively (>1.2 log CFU per reaction) detected E. albertii in chicken meat.

  • The mEC and NmEC broths at 42°C were adequate for enrichment.

  • E. albertii was quantified by the MPN method from mEC and NmEC enrichment cultures.

  • DHL and MAC agars with rhamnose and xylose were effective for isolating E. albertii.

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