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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Biofilm forming abilities of Salmonella are correlated with persistence in fish meal- and feed factories

Lene K Vestby1, Trond Møretrø2, Solveig Langsrud2, Even Heir2 and Live L Nesse1*

Author Affiliations

1 National Veterinary Institute, PO Box 750 Sentrum, N-0106, Oslo, Norway

2 Nofima mat, Osloveien 1, N-1430, Aas, Norway

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BMC Veterinary Research 2009, 5:20  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-5-20

Published: 27 May 2009



Feed contaminated with Salmonella spp. constitutes a risk of Salmonella infections in animals, and subsequently in the consumers of animal products. Salmonella are occasionally isolated from the feed factory environment and some clones of Salmonella persist in the factory environment for several years. One hypothesis is that biofilm formation facilitates persistence by protecting bacteria against environmental stress, e.g. disinfection. The aim of this study was to investigate the biofilm forming potential of Salmonella strains from feed- and fishmeal factories. The study included 111 Salmonella strains isolated from Norwegian feed and fish meal factories in the period 1991–2006 of serovar Agona, serovar Montevideo, serovar Senftenberg and serovar Typhimurium.


Significant differences were found between serovars regarding the abilities to form biofilm on polystyrene (microtiter plate assay) and in the air-liquid interface of nutrient broth (pellicle assay). Strains of serovar Agona and serovar Montevideo were good biofilm producers. In Norwegian factories, clones of these serovars have been observed to persist for several years. Most serovar Senftenberg clones appear to persist for a shorter period, and strains of this serovar were medium biofilm producers in our test systems. Strains of the serovar Typhimurium were relatively poor biofilm producers. Salmonella ser. Typhimurium clones have not been observed to persist even though this serovar is resident in Norwegian wild life. When classifying strains according to persistence or presumed non-persistence, persistent strains produced more biofilm than presumed non-persisting strains.


The results indicate a correlation between persistence and biofilm formation which suggests that biofilm forming ability may be an important factor for persistence of Salmonella in the factory environment.