Characterization of Escherichia coli from edible insect species : detection of Shiga toxin-producing isolate
Insects as novel foods are gaining popularity in Europe. Regulation (EU) 2015/2283 laid the framework for the application process to market food insects in member states, but potential hazards are still being evaluated. The aim of this study was to investigate samples of edible insect species for the presence of antimicrobial-resistant and Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC). Twenty-one E. coli isolates, recovered from samples of five different edible insect species, were subjected to antimicrobial susceptibility testing, PCR-based phylotyping, and macrorestriction analysis. The presence of genes associated with antimicrobial resistance or virulence, including stx1, stx2, and eae, was investigated by PCR. All isolates were subjected to genome sequencing, multilocus sequence typing, and serotype prediction. The isolates belonged either to phylogenetic group A, comprising mostly commensal E. coli, or group B1. One O178:H7 isolate, recovered from a Zophobas atratus sample, was identified as a STEC. A single isolate was resistant to tetracyclines and carried the tet(B) gene. Overall, this study shows that STEC can be present in edible insects, representing a potential health hazard. In contrast, the low resistance rate among the isolates indicates a low risk for the transmission of antimicrobial-resistant E. coli to consumers.