Microarray-Based Screening of Differentially Expressed Genes of E. coli O157:H7 Sakai during Preharvest Survival on Butterhead Lettuce
Numerous outbreaks of Escherichia coli O157:H7 have been linked to the consumption of leafy vegetables. However, up to the present, little has been known about E. coli O157:H7’s adaptive responses to survival on actively growing (and thus responsive) plants. In this study, whole genome transcriptional profiles were generated from E. coli O157:H7 cells (isolate Sakai, stx-) one hour and two days after inoculation on the leaves of growing butterhead lettuce, and compared with an inoculum control. A total of 273 genes of E. coli O157:H7 Sakai (5.04% of the whole genome) were significantly induced or repressed by at least two-fold (p < 0.01) in at least one of the analyzed time points in comparison with the control. Several E. coli O157:H7 genes associated with oxidative stress and antimicrobial resistance were upregulated, including the iron-sulfur cluster and the multiple antibiotic resistance (mar) operon, whereas the Shiga toxin virulence genes were downregulated. Nearly 40% of the genes with significantly different expression were poorly characterized genes or genes with unknown functions. These genes are of special interest for future research as they may play an important role in the pathogens’ adaptation to a lifestyle on plants. In conclusion, these findings suggest that the pathogen actively interacts with the plant environment by adapting its metabolism and responding to oxidative stress.