Fates of attached E. coli o157:h7 on intact leaf surfaces revealed leafy green susceptibility

Mengyi Dong, Maxwell J. Holle, Michael J. Miller, Pratik Banerjee, Hao Feng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Leafy greens, especially lettuce, are repeatedly linked to foodborne outbreaks. This paper studied the susceptibility of different leafy greens to human pathogens. Five commonly consumed leafy greens, including romaine lettuce, green-leaf lettuce, baby spinach, kale, and collard, were selected by their outbreak frequencies. The behavior of E. coli O157:H7 87-23 on intact leaf surfaces and in their lysates was investigated. Bacterial attachment was positively correlated with leaf surface roughness and affected by the epicuticular wax composition. At room temperature, E. coli O157:H7 had the best growth potentials on romaine and green-leaf lettuce surfaces. The bacterial growth was positively correlated with stomata size and affected by epicuticular wax compositions. At 37 °C, E. coli O157:H7 87-23 was largely inhibited by spinach and collard lysates, and it became undetectable in kale lysate after 24 h of incubation. Kale and collard lysates also delayed or partially inhibited the bacterial growth in TSB and lettuce lysate at 37 °C, and they sharply reduced the E. coli O157:H7 population on green leaf lettuce at 4 °C. In summary, the susceptibility of leafy greens to E. coli O157:H7 is determined by a produce-specific combination of physiochemical properties and temperature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104432
JournalFood Microbiology
StatePublished - May 2024


  • Bacteria-plant interaction
  • E. coli O157:H7
  • Epicuticular wax
  • Leafy greens
  • Natural antimicrobial

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Microbiology


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