Organic fruit may harbor fewer bacterial diseases

Photo Credit: Twinsfisch

A recent study in Frontiers in Microbiology shows that the microbial diversity on organic fruit may be able to keep disease-causing bacteria at bay. Researchers compared bacterial communities in organic versus conventional apples, and found that while organic and conventional apples have the same amount of bacteria on them, organic apples have more beneficial bacteria that offer favorable health effects for consumers. Conventional apples were found to harbor potential foodborne pathogens and fewer beneficial bacteria, while organic apples hosted greater diversity of beneficial bacteria that effectively crowd out the harmful pathogens that cause foodborne illnesses in humans. To get a sense of an apple’s overall microbiome (i.e. bacterial community), the researchers tested different tissues separately such as the peel, stem, seeds and fruit pulp. Interestingly, the different tissues harbored different and distinct bacterial communities, with the fruit pulp--that part we eat the most--hosting the most bacterial diversity and the peel hosting the least. Organic management had an important, positive impact on the diversity of beneficial microbes from these different tissues. Perhaps the most important difference was that while diversity was higher in almost all tissue types, the fruit pulp had much more microbial diversity, including beneficial bacteria, than conventional apples. The researchers suggest that the microbial diversity found in organic apples can offer a number of health benefits, including the suppression of human pathogens as well as a reduction in allergy symptoms.