Researcher to Study Gene Regulation in Salmonella

US - University of Arkansas researcher, Dr Sara Milillo, has received the National Research Initiative Fellowship to study gene regulation in foodborne Salmonella in poultry.
calendar icon 19 February 2009
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A research project at the University of Arkansas System's Division of Agriculture will explore new ways to reduce Salmonella contamination of poultry, according to the latest newsletter from the Food Safety Consortium.

The study will examine how effective certain antimicrobial treatments are in mitigating Salmonella and also conduct a genetic analysis of the Salmonella that survive the treatments.

Sara Milillo has received a two-year National Research Initiative postdoctoral fellowship grant for $113,383 from the US Department of Agriculture. Dr Milillo, a post-doctoral research associate at the UA Center for Food Safety, is under the supervision of Steven Ricke, the UA Center for Food Safety director who also holds the Wray Endowed Chair in Food Science.

"Though this is an experimental system, the results could be adapted for use in poultry processing," Dr Milillo said. "This future use could provide much needed insight into the gene regulation of Salmonella existing on chicken surfaces."

Upon completion of the project, the researchers will develop strategies to use safe antimicrobial treatments to further reduce foodborne pathogens on poultry. Previous research has shown that injured foodborne pathogens can actually become more virulent after surviving attempts to reduce their levels through the use of antimicrobial treatments. This project's efforts will be aimed at determining the treatments' effects on Salmonella virulence gene expression.

The results are expected to develop a safe and mild antimicrobial treatment that can reduce Salmonella on poultry in addition to establishing a method for determining Salmonella's genetic response to stresses from various combinations of antimicrobial treatments.

"This research will be beneficial long term to the food safety research community in establishing a system for evaluation of new antimicrobial treatments for safety and effectiveness on a genetic basis," Dr Milillo explained.

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