Transmission and retention of Salmonella enterica by phytophagous hemipteran insects

José Pablo Soto-Arias, Russell L. Groves, Jeri D. Barak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Several pest insects of human and livestock habitations are known as vectors of Salmonella enterica; however, the role of plant feeding insects as vectors of S. enterica to agricultural crops remains unexamined. Using a hemipteran insect pest-lettuce system, we investigated the potential for transmission and retention of S. enterica. Specifically, Macrosteles quadrilineatus and Myzus persicae insects were fed S. enterica-inoculated lettuce leaf discs or artificial liquid diets confined in Parafilm sachets to allow physical contact or exclusively oral ingestion of the pathogen, respectively. After a 24-h acquisition access period, insects were moved onto two consecutive noninoculated leaf discs or liquid diets and allowed a 24-h inoculation access period on each of the two discs or sachets. Similar proportions of individuals from both species ingested S. enterica after a 24-h acquisition access period from inoculated leaf discs, but a significantly higher proportion of M. quadrilineatus retained the pathogen internally after a 48-h inoculation access period. S. enterica was also recovered from the honeydew of both species. After a 48-h inoculation access period, bacteria were recovered from a significantly higher proportion of honeydew samples from M. quadrilineatus than from M. persicae insects. The recovery of S. enterica from leaf discs and liquid diets postfeeding demonstrated that both species of insects were capable of transmitting the bacteria in ways that are not limited to mechanical transmission. Overall, these results suggest that phytophagous insects may serve as potential vectors of S. enterica in association with plants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5447-5456
Number of pages10
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes


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