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Electrostatic forces control nonspecific virus attachment to lettuce.

Journal of Food Protection 71(3):522 (2008) PMID 18389695

Enteric viruses are key foodborne pathogens. The objective of this study was to compare the relative contributions of electrostatic and hydrophobic forces with the nonspecific attachment of virus to butterhead lettuce. The attachment of four viruses (echovirus 11, feline calicivirus [FCV], MS2, and phiX174) was studied. Three different conditions, namely (i) 1% Tween 80, (ii) 1 M NaCl, and (iii) 1% Tween 80 with 1 M NaCl, were investigated to determine the role of hydrophobic, electrostatic, and combined hydrophobic and electrostatic forces, respectively. Attachment above the pI of FCV and echovirus 11 was reduced or eliminated in the presence of NaCl, indicating an electrostatic interaction between the animal viruses and lettuce. The bacteriophage phiX174 was not significantly affected by any treatment, indicating a lack of electrostatic or hydrophobic interactions between the lettuce and phage phiX174. Overall, 1 M NaCl was the most effective treatment in desorbing viruses from the surface of lettuce at pH 7 and 8. The results imply that electrostatic forces play a major role in controlling virus adsorption to lettuce. The results indicate that 1 M NaCl solution would improve the recovery or elution of unenveloped viruses from lettuce.

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