A previously identified set of anti– Escherichia coli O157:H7 colicinogenic E. coli were characterized to assess the suitability of these isolates as a preharvest food safety intervention in cattle. This collection of 23 E. coli strains were screened for virulence factors, antibiotic resistance, type of colicin(s) present, and their ability to inhibit other pathogenic E. coli. With the use of PCR, pathogen genes were detected in six of the 23 colicinogenic E. coli. When the nonpathogenic strains were assessed for antibiotic resistance, four strains showed resistance to at least one antibiotic. The remaining set of 14 strains were evaluated for the presence of previously identified colicins. Seven colicins (B, E1, E2/E7, E7, Ia/Ib, K, and M) were detected. One half of the strains possessed multiple types of colicins. The most commonly detected colicins were B, E2/E7, and M, which were found in six strains each. DNA sequencing was also performed in order to classify the E2/E7 colicins separately from E7 colicins. The 14 colicinogenic E. coli also were evaluated for their ability to inhibit 10 different non-O157 pathogenic E. coli. Six of the colicinogenic E. coli were capable of inhibiting all 10 pathogens, and the remaining eight strains could each inhibit between six to eight of the pathogenic E. coli. This strain collection has great potential for inhibiting E. coli O157:H7 in cattle.

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