In silico mapping of microbial communities and stress responses in a porcine slaughterhouse and pork products through its production chain, and the efficacy of HLE disinfectant

Guillermo Campos Calero, Natacha Cabellero Gómez, Leyre Lavilla Lerma, Nabil Benomar, Charles W. Knapp, Hikmate Abriouel

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9 Citations (Scopus)
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The use of shotgun metagenomic sequencing to understand ecological-level spread of microbes and their genes has provided new insights for the prevention, surveillance and control of microbial contaminants in the slaughterhouse environment. Here, microbial samples were collected from products and surrounding areas though a porcine slaughter process; shotgun metagenomic DNA-sequencing of these samples revealed a high community diversity within the porcine slaughterhouse and pork products, in zones originating from animal arrival through to the sale zones. Bacteria were more prevalent in the first zones, such as arrival- and anesthesia-zones, and DNA viruses were prevalent in the scorching-and-whip zone, animal products and sale zone. Data revealed the dominance of Firmicutes and Proteobacteria phyla followed by Actinobacteria, with a clear shift in the relative abundance of lactic acid bacteria (mainly Lactobacillus sp.) from early slaughtering steps to Proteobacteria and then to viruses suggesting site-specific community compositions occur in the slaughterhouse. Porcine-type-C oncovirus was the main virus found in slaughterhouse, which causes malignant diseases in animals and humans. As such, to guarantee food safety in a slaughterhouse, a better decipher of ecology and adaptation strategies of microbes becomes crucial. Analysis of functional genes further revealed high abundance of diverse genes associated with stress, especially in early zones (animal and environmental surfaces of arrival zone with 57,710 and 40,806 genes, respectively); SOS responsive genes represented the most prevalent, possibly associated with genomic changes responsible of biofilm formation, stringent response, heat shock, antimicrobial production and antibiotic response. The presence of several antibiotic resistance genes suggests horizontal gene transfer, thus increasing the likelihood for resistance selection in human pathogens. These findings are of great concern, with the suggestion to focus control measures and establish good disinfection strategies to avoid gene spread and microbial contaminants (bacteria and viruses) from the animal surface into the food chain and environment, which was achieved by applying HLE disinfectant after washing with detergent.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109486
Number of pages18
JournalFood Research International
Early online date29 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2020


  • slaughterhouse
  • metagenomics
  • in-silico analysis
  • bacteria
  • virome
  • stress genes


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