ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202101.0209.v1
Subject: Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry Keywords: leafy greens; spinach; metabolomics; metabolic profiling; food pathogens; biomarker discovery
Online: 12 January 2021 (08:20:35 CET)
Shiga toxigenic E. coli (STEC) are an important cause of foodborne disease globally with many outbreaks linked to the consumption of contaminated foods such as leafy greens. Existing methods for STEC detection and isolation are time-consuming. Rapid methods may assist in preventing contaminated products from reaching consumers. This proof-of-concept study aimed to determine if a metabolomics approach could be used to detect STEC contamination in spinach. Using untargeted metabolic profiling, the bacterial pellets and supernatants arising from bacterial and inoculated spinach enrichments were investigated for the presence of unique metabolites that enabled categorization of three E. coli risk groups. A total of 109 and 471 metabolite features were identified in bacterial and inoculated spinach enrichments, respectively. Supervised OPLS-DA analysis demonstrated clear dis-crimination between bacterial enrichments containing different risk groups. Further analysis of the spinach enrichments determined that pathogen risk groups 1 and 2 could be easily discriminated from the other groups, though some clustering of risk groups 1 and 2 was observed, likely representing their genomic similarity. Biomarker discovery identified metabolites that were significantly associated with risk groups and may be appropriate targets for potential biosensor development. This study has confirmed that metabolomics can be used to identify the presence of pathogenic E. coli likely to be implicated in human disease.