To compare the characteristics and to identify the epidemiological relationships of Escherichia coli isolated from organic and conventional vegetables, the antimicrobial resistance and genetic properties of E. coli were investigated from 2010 to 2011. E. coli was isolated from 1 of 111 (0.9%) organic vegetables and from 20 of 225 (8.9%) conventional vegetables. The majority of strains were isolated from the surrounding farming environment (n=27/150 vs. 49/97 in organic vs. conventional samples). The majority of the vegetable strains were isolated from the surrounding farming environments. E. coli isolated from organic vegetables showed very low antimicrobial resistance rates except for cephalothin, ranging from 0% to 17.9%, while the resistance rates to cephalothin (71%) were extremely high in both groups. E. coli isolates expressed various resistance genes, which most commonly included blaTEM, tet(A), strA, strB, and qnrS. However, none of the isolates harbored tet(D), tet(E), tet(K), tet(L), tet(M), or qnrA. The transferability of tet gene, tet(A), and tet(B) was identified in tetracycline-resistant E. coli, and the genetic relationship was confirmed in a few cases from different sources. With regard to the lower antimicrobial resistance found in organic produce, this production mode seems able to considerably reduce the selection of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria on vegetables.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Science
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
- Animal Science and Zoology