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Certain fimbriae and the flagellae of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium have been shown to contribute to attachment and invasion of gut epithelium in the murine typhoid infection model and to contribute to pathogenesis in the chick. However, little is known of the role these organelles play in Enteritidis poultry infections and, to study this, day-old chicks were dosed orally in separate experiments with defined multiply afimbriate and/or aflagellate mutant strains of Enteritidis. The colonization and invasion characteristics of each mutant were compared with those of the isogenic wild type strain by the determination of the number of bacteria recovered from livers and spleens at known time points post infection. Compared with wild type Enteritidis, a mutant unable to express flagella but retaining the genetic potential to express fimbriae was recovered post mortem from livers and spleens in significantly reduced numbers compared to the isogenic wild-type at all time points post infection (P<0·001). Conversely, a flagellate but multiply afimbriate mutant (defective for the elaboration of five different fimbrial types) and a flagellate but non-motile ‘paralysed’ mutant were recovered from livers and spleens in similar numbers to the wild-type. The data suggested that Enteritidis flagella, but not fimbriae, played an important role in pathogenesis in the chick model and that the flagellar apparatus itself and not motility per se contributed significantly to this role.
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