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Working Group 1 - WG1

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Harmonisation of tools for the analysis of colonisation patterns

Prof. Dr Shlomo Sela
ARO Volcani Center, IL
Prof. Dr. Catherine Biggs
The University of Sheffield, UK
Task 1
Development of a glossary for harmonisation of definitions
The activity of the this COST action toward mitigation of bacterial colonisation and persistence on foods and food processing environments involves a multi-disciplinary European network of researchers. In order to facilitate communication among researchers from different disciplines it is crucial to use identical terminology with the same meaning by all participants. The first task of WG1 will therefore be devoted to the selection of common definitions and terms and the development of a joint glossary. A successful completion of this task will enable smooth harmonization of the methods and tools necessary for the analysis of colonization pattern.

Task 2

Methods for the evaluation of cell attachment, biofilm formation on food and abiotic surfaces and internalization
Microbial colonization of foods and abiotic surfaces is a multistep process, including chemical, physical and biological interactions between microbial ligands and surface molecules that result in attachment and under the appropriate conditions, also in multiplication and biofilm formation. Some foodborne pathogens may also attach to and internalize plants through natural openings, such as stomata. While some assays to assess bacterial attachment and/or biofilm formation on abiotic surface are well established, there are numerous variations in the literature which sometimes hampers comparison between studies. Other assays were specifically developed for certain surfaces. The study of bacterial internalization in plants is even more complicated due to the utilization of different methodologies. In order to harmonise the tools for studying bacterial colonization, a joint effort will be made to choose, define and or revise the most basic assays for assessing bacterial colonization, efficacy of disinfectant and the development of resistance to disinfectants. 
Task 3
Methods for assessing the efficacy of disinfectants
While the best strategy to avoid food contamination is prevention of contact between food and foodborne pathogens, the food industry requires additional hurdles, such as decontamination of foods and food-contact surfaces. Determination of disinfectant activity is complex, and depends upon numerous parameters, including disinfectant concentration, the chemical and physical properties of the surface, temperature, time and the specific nature of the bacterial strain to be studied. Unlike antibiogram, which is used to assess specific bacterial sensitivity to antibiotics, there is currently no standard assay for testing the efficacy of disinfectant to be used in the food industry. This task will be devoted to the selection of number of agreed upon methods that could be used for assessing disinfectant activity on foodborne bacteria associated with food- or food processing surfaces.
Task 4
Methods for the assessment of resistance development to disinfectants
The increase utilization of disinfectants in the food industry for food and surface decontamination has resulted in the development of resistance in a similar manner to the emergence of antibiotic resistance. Resistance to disinfectant may be enhanced, for example, in mutants that activate efflux-pumps that actively transport a broad range of substrates from the cytoplasm to the exterior of the cell. Assessing the development of resistance to disinfectant is currently one of the major challenges of the food industry which crucial for food safety. Currently reported methods will be discussed and broadly agreed-upon methods will be selected and communicated among researchers in the field.
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