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Summary

Fresh fruit and vegetables are important components of a healthy and balanced diet. However, they are increasingly being recognized as important vehicles for transmission of human pathogens that were traditionally classified as zoonotic. There is a significant gap in our knowledge and understanding of the mechanisms by which human pathogens colonize and survive on or in fruits and vegetables. In this study we investigated the binding of Salmonella enterica to tomato fruits (Solanum lycopersicum), which is becoming a major source of human infection. We report that Salmonella enterica serovars Typhimurium and Senftenberg bound to the surface of unripe tomatoes in an aggregative pattern, while serovar Thompson adhered diffusely. We found that while flagella did not have a role in binding, bcsC S. Typhimurim mutants, deficient in cellulose production, exhibited significantly reduced level of attachment to tomatoes. Trans complementation of the mutation restored adhesion to the wild-type level.