Dr. LeeAnn Jaykus’s lab at North Caro- lina State University
(NCSU) has focused on norovirus
but has also expanded to include
the capture and detection of other foodborne viral and bacterial
pathogens, with the goal of developing rapid detection methods
that are compatible with common
food and environmental sample
matrices. This involves the use of
polymerase chain reaction (
PCR)-based detection methodology, ap-tamer construction for pathogen
capture, and testing the efficacy
of capture-detection methods on
a variety of platforms.
These studies are spearheaded
by Jeremy Faircloth, a technical
research staff member. Sanitizer
and disinfectant efficacy testing
is led by Dr. Blanca Escudero-Abarca, with the help of others.
Most of these studies focus on
human norovirus and its cultivable surrogates, with product
efficacy tested using suspension,
surface, and finger pad study designs followed by detection and
quantification using reverse-tran-
On: The Jaykus Laboratory
mammalian cell culture. In the latter case, lab members are even able to use the new human
intestinal enteroid model. The enteroid model allows the lab to culture human norovirus,
an achievement made possible by the work of colleagues at the Baylor College of Medicine.
Overall, the data obtained from these studies provide scientific validation that certain sanitizers and disinfectant products and technologies are (or are not) efficacious against human
Other highly applied disinfection studies have been performed by Faircloth, Jason Frye,
and Robin Moore on a plethora of products with and without soil load on stainless steel
coupons and countertops. Eric Moorman studies sanitation and hygiene in the context of
biofilms with undergrad Esa Puntch. With the help of outside collaborators, a dynamic dual-species biofilm model has been developed that consists of the foodborne pathogen Listeria
monocytogenes co-cultured with
Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a common environmental contaminant. Microscopy techniques
on the biofilms have elucidated
their overall structure and functional components. Using a
resistance-training approach, lab
members are currently assessing
sanitizer efficacy and tolerance
of L. monocytogenes in this dynamic system.
The Jaykus lab also performs applied research to investigate how foodborne pathogens
contaminate produce in the field and how they move around consumer kitchens and lead
to cross-contamination. Current research is focused on developing a basic understanding
of how enteric pathogens, such as Salmonella, can survive and colonize fruit and vegetable
crops. The female blossom has been identified as a significant route to colonization and
internalization of edible fruit (cantaloupe and cucumber in particular), even when the blossoms are challenged with very small amounts of the pathogen.
The lab continues to characterize the duration of pathogen survival on/within various
fruit and vegetable plants, identify the specific stages of plant development where pathogen
colonization can occur most frequently, and visualize the movement of pathogens within
plant tissues. This project, funded by and in collaboration with the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration, is being led by Dr. Kellie Burris with help from Robin Moore. The Jaykus
lab also works closely with the Chapman lab (also at NCSU), the Research Triangle Institute,
and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) to
characterize cross-contamination from raw poultry to kitchen surfaces and ready-to-eat foods
in a consumer kitchen, a project funded by USDA-FSIS.
One of the most interesting findings of this study was that spice containers were readily
cross-contaminated (50% of the time) when handling raw ground turkey, and the sink was
found to be contaminated 26% of the time when washing raw chicken. The results from
this project will be used by the FSIS Office of Public Affairs and Consumer Education to
develop better food safety messages for consumers. The Jaykus lab’s contributions to this
project are coordinated and performed by Margaret Kirchner and Dr. Rebecca Goulter with
help from many undergraduate and M.Sc. students, including Savana Everhart.
Goulter manages all these distinct and complicated projects as well as the laboratory’s
day-to-day issues. Her effective management skills are a vital and integral part of what allows
the Jaykus lab to perform myriad experiments and continue to function effectively while
having a damn good time.