• Impact of Soil Type, Biology and Temperature on the Survival of Non-Toxigenic Escherichia Coli O157

      Moynihan, Emma; Richards, Karl G.; Ritz, Karl; Tyrrel, Sean; Brennan, Fiona P.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Royal Irish Academy, 14/06/2013)
      The occurrence of microbial enteropathogens in the environment can represent a serious risk to human health. The fate of enteropathogens introduced into the soil environment is dependent on a wide range of complex interacting environmental factors. While the effect of abiotic factors on enteropathogen survival has been widely examined, the interaction of enteropathogens with the soil microbial community is poorly understood. This study investigated the effect of soil biology and soil type on the survival of a non-toxigenic strain of Escherichia coli O157 under different temperature regimes. Soil microcosms of two soil types, with and without an intact microbial community, were inoculated with the enteropathogen surrogate, and survival was determined over a 64-day period, encompassing a shift from cold to ambient temperatures. In both soil types bacterial numbers decreased in soil with an intact microflora, while in the absence of an intact community E. coli populations increased. This effect was temperature specific, with E. coli populations remaining stable at low temperature, regardless of treatment. Soil type was of importance in survival at both cold and ambient temperatures. This work highlights the signifi cance of the soil microbial community in suppressing enteropathogens in soil, and of investigating die-off in a multi-factorial manner.