A recent study published in Microbiology Spectrum, the journal of the American Society for Microbiology, has found that tomato juice is effective at killing Salmonella Typhi and other enteric pathogens that can damage the digestive and urinary tract health. Salmonella Typhi is a specific human pathogen that causes typhoid fever.

The research team, led by Dr. Jeongmin Song from Cornell University’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology, set out to determine if tomatoes and tomato juice can kill enteric pathogens, including Salmonella Typhi, and if so, what properties make them effective, according to Dr. Song.

The researchers first tested in laboratory experiments whether tomato juice does indeed kill Salmonella Typhi. Once confirmed, the team examined the tomato genome to identify antimicrobial peptides involved. Antimicrobial peptides are very small protein molecules that disrupt bacterial cell membranes, which normally keep the organisms intact. The researchers selected four potential antimicrobial peptides and tested their efficacy against Salmonella Typhi. This helped identify two antimicrobial peptides that were effective against Salmonella Typhi.

Further tests were conducted using variants of Salmonella Typhi that occur in areas where the disease is common. A computer modeling study was also done to learn more about how the antibacterial peptides kill Salmonella Typhi and other enteric pathogens. Lastly, the team analyzed the juice’s effectiveness against other enteric pathogens that can harm digestive and urinary tract health.

The most significant finding is that tomato juice is effective at eliminating Salmonella Typhi, its hypervirulent strains, and other bacteria damaging to human digestive and urinary health. Specifically, two antimicrobial peptides can eliminate these pathogens by disrupting the bacteria’s protective cell membrane layer.

Our research demonstrates that tomatoes and tomato juice can get rid of enteric bacteria like Salmonella, says Dr. Song. The researchers hope increased public awareness of the study results will encourage greater consumption of tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables for their natural antibacterial benefits.

In summary, this study provides promising evidence that tomato juice possesses compounds able to kill harmful pathogens like Salmonella Typhi. The researchers said they hope that when the general public, particularly children and teenagers, learns about the outcome of the study, they will want to eat and drink more tomatoes as well as other fruits and vegetables, because they provide natural antibacterial benefits to consumers.


Sources

American Society for Microbiology | Ryan S. Kwon, Gi Young Lee, et al., Antimicrobial properties of tomato juice and peptides against typhoidal Salmonella. Microbiology Spectrum, doi.org/10.1128/spectrum.03102-23


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