Autoinducer-2-like activity on vegetable produce and its potential involvement in bacterial biofilm formation on tomatoes. Academic Article uri icon


  • Quorum sensing employing autoinducer molecules is a strategy used by bacterial populations to coordinately modulate their response to environmental stresses and host defense mechanisms. The objectives of this study were to determine the levels of autoinducer-2 (AI-2)-like activity on selected vegetable produce and determine whether AI-2-like molecules can promote E. coli O157:H7 biofilm formation on tomatoes. Twelve different fruit and vegetable produce samples were screened for AI-2-like activity using autoinducer sensing V. harveyi biosensor strains. All samples except strawberries showed AI-2 activity albeit at varying levels, with eggplant having the highest levels. Tomatoes, when stored at 4 degrees C for 9 days, showed increasing levels of heterotrophic bacterial populations as compared to AI-2-like activity levels, which fluctuated. Rinses from Roma tomato surfaces that were stored at refrigeration temperature for up to 9 days caused a significant increase (1.8-3.6-fold as compared to the negative controls) in biofilm formation by luxS mutant (non AI-2 producing) generic E. coli and E. coli O157:H7 strains using a micro-titer plate-based biofilm assay. These results suggest that AI-2-like activity, which is present on the surfaces of tomatoes, has the potential to enhance the production of bacterial biofilms.

published proceedings

  • Foodborne Pathog Dis

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Lu, L., Hume, M. E., & Pillai, S. D.

citation count

  • 37

complete list of authors

  • Lu, Lingeng||Hume, Michael E||Pillai, Suresh D

publication date

  • September 2005