BACKGROUND: Arugula is a traditional medicinal plant and popular leafy green today. It is mainly consumed raw in the Western cuisine and known to contain various bioactive secondary metabolites. However, arugula has been also associated with high-profile outbreaks causing severe food-borne human diseases. A multiphasic approach integrating data from metagenomics, amplicon sequencing, and arugula-derived bacterial cultures was employed to understand the specificity of the indigenous microbiome and resistome of the edible plant parts.
RESULTS: Our results indicate that arugula is colonized by a diverse, plant habitat-specific microbiota. The indigenous phyllosphere bacterial community was shown to be dominated by Enterobacteriaceae, which are well-equipped with various antibiotic resistances. Unexpectedly, the prevalence of specific resistance mechanisms targeting therapeutic antibiotics (fluoroquinolone, chloramphenicol, phenicol, macrolide, aminocoumarin) was only surpassed by efflux pump assignments.
CONCLUSIONS: Enterobacteria, being core microbiome members of arugula, have a substantial implication in the overall resistome. Detailed insights into the natural occurrence of antibiotic resistances in arugula-associated microorganisms showed that the plant is a hotspot for distinctive defense mechanisms. The specific functioning of microorganisms in this unusual ecosystem provides a unique model to study antibiotic resistances in an ecological context.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Microbiology (medical)