Researchers at the USDA-ARS Egg Safety and Quality Research Unit, Athens, Georgia, have developed powerful tools for detecting Salmonella. The project is part of the the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association (USPOULTRY) comprehensive research program encompassing all phases of poultry and egg production and processing.

The project “Rapid Molecular Pathotyping of Major Salmonella enterica Serotypes Based on Single-Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) in the Adenylate Cyclase (cyaA) Gene,” was led by Dr. Michael J. Rothrock Jr. and Dr. Jean Guard.

Detecting Salmonella in various stages of the food production system is complicated by the vast number of Salmonella serotypes and the variation of characteristics even within a serotype. Simple methods are needed by the poultry industry to track isolates of Salmonella through the production system so that more effective interventions can be implemented.

Rothrock and Guard recently completed a research project in which they developed reagents and protocols to rapidly detect and identify some of the major serotypes of Salmonella and differentiate different isolates within a serotype. Utilizing single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of two different genes, they were able to detect 89-100 percent of a panel of Salmonella isolates from environmental, poultry production and processing settings. SNPs are discreet areas in a gene that vary between isolates of similar bacteria and can be used to identify those bacteria. This work demonstrates the power of using SNPs to quickly and accurately distinguish between isolates of Salmonella and can serve as a valuable tool for Salmonella control in the poultry industry.