Use of a Natural Biocontrol Agent Bacillus subtilis UD1022 to Increase Crop Yield and Reduce Contamination by Listeria monocytogenes On Cantaloupes

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2014: $14,035.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Grant Recipient: University of Delaware
Region: Northeast
State: Delaware
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Dr. Kalmia Kniel
University of Delaware
Faculty Advisor:
Dr. Harsh Bais
University of Delaware

Annual Reports


  • Fruits: melons


  • Crop Production: food product quality/safety
  • Education and Training: workshop
  • Pest Management: biological control, competition, prevention
  • Production Systems: general crop production
  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems, sustainability measures

    Proposal abstract:

    Cantaloupes serve as one of the major crops in the state of Delaware accounting for approximately $850,000 in estimated annual sales. However; a recent turning point for the cantaloupe industry occurred this past year when the Jensen brothers received criminal charges for growing produce that was contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes and was associated with the an outbreak resulting in the deaths of 34 individuals. The purpose of this project is to evaluate the use of a plant growth promoting rhizobacteria, Bacillus subtilis UD1022, to reduce the contamination of cantaloupes by Listeria monocytogenes in the pre-harvest environment as well as the packing house environment. Preliminary data has shown the ability of UD1022 to help increase crop yield through complex plant-microbe interactions that increase plant defenses toward plant pathogens. In addition, preliminary data has shown that UD1022 can inhibit growth of human pathogens, specifically Listeria monocytogenes, in culture as well as on leaves of Romaine lettuce plants when UD1022 is inoculated onto the roots of plants. In the proposed experiments, we will build on previous work by evaluating the use of UD1022 to reduce bacterial contamination on cantaloupes where Listeria growth and biofilm formation continues to be a problem as Listeria is a ubiquitous organism within the environment. We propose the use of UD1022 as a novel biocontrol agent and sustainable method to reduce contamination of cantaloupes by Listeria monocytogenes in the pre- and post-harvest environment.

    Project objectives from proposal:


      1. Investigate the ability of UD1022 to prevent Listeria monocytogenes growth and biofilm formation on cantaloupe rinds at various storage temperatures such as those that occur in the packing house environment.


      1. Evaluate the effects of UD1022 treated cantaloupe seeds on seed germination and persistence of Listeria monocytogenes during plant growth in the pre-harvest environment.


    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.