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Title: Evaluation of Covalent Organic Frameworks for the low-cost, rapid detection of Shiga Toxin-producing Escherichia coli in ready-to-eat salads
Author: Costa-Ribeiro, Ana
Azinheiro, Sarah
Fernandes, Soraia P.S.
Lamas, Alexandre
Prado, Marta
Salonen, Laura M.
Garrido-Maestu, Alejandro
Keywords: Shiga Toxin-producing Escherichia coli
Multiplex qPCR
Ready-to-eat salad
Covalent Organic Frameworks
Rapid methods
Same-day detection
Issue Date: 1-Aug-2023
Publisher: Elsevier
Abstract: Background: Ready-to-eat products, such as leafy greens, must be carefully controlled as they are directly consumed without any treatment to reduce the presence of potential pathogens. Food industries, especially those that process products with short shelf-life, demand rapid detection of foodborne pathogens such as Shiga Toxinproducing Escherichia coli (STEC). In this sense, molecular methods can fulfill both requirements of turnaround time and consumer safety. The most popular rapid methods are those based on real-time PCR (qPCR) however, vegetables contain inhibitory compounds that may inhibit the amplification reaction thus, there is a need for novel sample preparation protocols. Results: In the current study, a low-cost sample treatment based on sequential filtration steps was developed. This protocol was combined with covalent organic frameworks (COFs), and compared against a chelating resin, to evaluate their performance by multiplex qPCR targeting the major virulence genes of STEC, namely stx1, stx2, and eae, along with the rfbE for the specific identification of serogroup O157 due to its particularly high incidence, and an Internal Amplification Control to assess reaction inhibition. The optimized sample treatment effectively removed vegetable qPCR inhibitory compounds, and it was possible to detect STEC in spiked ready-toeat salad samples in one working day, roughly 5 h, with an LOD50 of 8.7 CFU/25 g with high diagnostic sensitivity and specificity. The method was also assessed in samples with cold-stressed bacteria with good results, further demonstrating its applicability. Significance: It was demonstrated for the first time that COFs are suitable for DNA extraction and purification. In addition to this, due to the tunable nature of these materials, it is envisioned that future modifications in terms of pore size or combination with magnetic materials, will allow to further improve their performance. In addition to this, the rapid and low-cost sample treatment protocol developed demonstrated suitable for the rapid screening of STEC vegetable samples.
Peer review: yes
DOI: 10.1016/j.aca.2023.341357
ISSN: 0003-2670
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