The bacterium Salmonella enterica can infect marine mammals and has been increasingly implicated in seafood-borne disease outbreaks in humans. Despite the risk this zoonotic agent poses to animals and people, little is known regarding the environmental factors that affect its persistence in the sea. The goal of this study was to evaluate the impact of two constituents on the survival of Salmonella in the marine environment: transparent exopolymer particles (TEP) and suspended particles. A decay experiment was conducted by spiking Salmonella into bottles containing seawater, seawater with alginic acid as a source of TEP, filtered seawater or filtered seawater with alginic acid. Survival of Salmonella was monitored using culture followed by enrichment assays to evaluate if the bacteria entered a viable but non-cultivable (VBNC) state. Salmonella cell counts dropped significantly faster (P ≤ 0.05) in the unfiltered seawater samples with and without TEP. The slowest decay occurred in filtered seawater containing alginic acid, with VBNC Salmonella persisting for 17 months. These findings suggest that TEP may favor Salmonella survival while suspended particles facilitate its decay. Insight on the survival of allochthonous, zoonotic pathogens in seawater can guide monitoring, management and policy decisions relevant to wildlife and human public health.
- Escherichia coli
- fecal indicator bacteria
- Salmonella enterica
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology