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”One Health” Syst-Omics Approach to Reduce Campylobacter in Agri-Food Chain

Regional Priorities Partnership Program (RP3)
Agriculture and Agri Food
Genome Centre(s):
Genome British Columbia
Project Leader(s):
Xiaonan Lu (The University of British Columbia), William Hsiao (BC Centre for Disease Control)
Fiscal Year Project Launched: 
Project Description: 

Campylobacter has been recognized as a major foodborne pathogen in many parts of the world. Campylobacteriosis is the most frequently reported bacterial foodborne illness in Canada, outnumbering the reported cases of Listeria, Salmonella, and Escherichia coli infections combined. Campylobacter contamination also has a significant economic impact on the poultry industry as different domesticated and wild birds are its natural reservoirs. Understanding this microbe in the context of British Columbia’s agro-ecosystem and poultry production chain is vital to monitor, prevent and control Campylobacter-associated food contamination. We aim to implement a multi-pronged approach by developing and integrating novel characterization, detection and biocontrol tools to reduce Campylobacter in B.C.’s agri-food chain. We will apply whole genome sequencing (WGS) and analysis to characterize the clinical and environmental Campylobacter isolates collected in B.C. These isolates will also be tested in the laboratory for their virulence level. We will customize our detection and control of high-risk Campylobacter isolates based on their genotypic, phenotypic and epidemiological characteristics. WGS information will also be used to develop a new molecular assay for the detection of Campylobacter in environmental and agri-food samples. We will also isolate Campylobacter bacteriophages followed by WGS characterization of their genomes to ensure the absence of virulence genes in these phages so they can be used as a biocontrol strategy once their host ranges and persistence in the environment are determined. The selected bacteriophages will be integrated into a novel biodegradable food packaging material to reduce Campylobacter burden in raw poultry products. Our project will provide significant social and economic benefits to Canada by 1) offering increased efficiency, accuracy and affordability of Campylobacter surveillance and detection and 2) developing a new biodegradable antimicrobial packaging to reduce Campylobacter in raw poultry products, which will help B.C. maintain its position as a leader in poultry/food safety.