I am please to present a Postcard written by the lovely Ana Carolina! Ana is a microbiologist from Brazil who carried out part of her PhD in Sardinia, Italy studying salmonella. I was lucky enough to work in Sardinia at the same time as Ana Carolina while I was completing my Visiting Professorship at the University of Sassari. Ana works incredibly hard but always with a smile on her face. It was a delight to see her everyday. I am happy to call Ana a colleague and a friend!
I went to Sardinia!
In 2008 I started my PhD in food microbiology at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), in Porto Alegre, Brazil. It was a moment of transition, because I did my master’s degree working with mycotoxins and now I decided to work with Salmonella. I was accepted to a group that has studied the occurrence of outbreaks of salmonellosis in the state of Rio Grande do Sul (RS) (southern Brazil) for 10 years, the Laboratory of Food Microbiology of the ICTA/UFRGS.
This research group had already made several discoveries regarding Salmonella Enteritidis (S. Enteritidis). In previous work done in the Laboratory of Food Microbiology, the spvR gene (Salmonella plasmid virulance)was identified in 82.7% of S. Enteritidis infections involved in food poisoning cases which occurred in RS from 1999 to 2000  . These isolates were also characterized according to their antibiotic resistance, and it was shown that there was a high percentage of sensitivity to most of the drugs tested  . Oliveira et al.  demonstrated that strains of S. Enteritidis isolated from these outbreaks which occurred in RS in 2001 and 2002 showed similar resistance profiles as the lines of the preceding period. Interestingly, it was identified that one strain of S. Enteritidis was involved in more than 95% of the salmonellosis cases which occurred in RS . Importantly, other work from the laboratory evaluated the resistance of S. Enteritidis SE86 to disinfectants commonly used in food industries . It was concluded from this work that peracetic acid, sodium hypochlorite and quaternary ammonium were able to inactivate S. Enteritidis SE86; however, this strain was more resistant to the concentration of 200 ppm sodium hypochlorite (commonly used in Brazil).
Continuing the investigation into the strains of S. Enteritidis which are responsible for salmonellosis and acid resistance in RS, my PhD project aims to investigate the expression of resistance genes which may contribute to the involvement of this predominant strain of S. Enteritidis in food in Brazil. That was the part of the thesis that took me to the Laboratorio di Microbiologia at Univesrsità degli Studi di Sassari.
So, with the desire of live outside Brazil and to enrich the Brazilian science, I went to Sardinia or Sardegna, Italy. Sardinia is a large Island in the Mediterranean Sea.
To realize this dream, I sent emails to Professore Salvatore Rubino (Editor-in-Chief of JIDC) and Professore Sergio Uzzau, asking if I could perform one year of research in their laboratory. After their positive response, I applied for a scholarship to Capes, a Brazilian funding agency for research. The result was one year living in Sassari (2009 to 2010), developing my thesis.
In Sardinia genetic modifications in the Brasilian S. Enteritidis (strain SE86) were preformed. With the help of Doctoressa Donatella Bacciu, we performed knockout techniques  and epitope tagging  in four different genes to check the expression of these strain’s forward acidity and high temperatures, results which I am currently writing up.
It was an incredible experience! Sardinia has breathtaking landscapes, incredible history and very nice people. The university gave me all necessary support for my research; with great colleagues guiding me … I learned a lot, both inside and outside the laboratory. I returned to my country with lots of knowledge: the language, the laboratory techniques, dear friends. I love Sardinia!
Today I am writing the articles and the thesis, because I have to finish my PhD
by March 2012.
Post doc? Why not? Science takes us to places that we never dreamed…
Ana is 31 years old. She studied biology (2000 until 2004), then did a two year master degree ( between 2005 and 2007) working with Aspergillus flavus (food microbiology). In 2008, she started her PhD (food microbiology) at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Ana’s story to be post in Portuguese soon!
1. Geimba MP, Tondo EC, de Oliveira FA, Canal CW, Brandelli A (2004) Serological characterization and prevalence of spvR genes in Salmonella isolated from foods involved in outbreaks in Brazil. J Food Prot 67: 1229-1233.
2. de Oliveira FA, Brandelli A, Tondo EC (2006) Antimicrobial resistance in Salmonella enteritidis from foods involved in human salmonellosis outbreaks in southern Brazil. New Microbiol 29: 49-54.
3. Datsenko KA, Wanner BL (2000) One-step inactivation of chromosomal genes in Escherichia coli K-12 using PCR products. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 97: 6640-6645. 10.1073/pnas.120163297 [doi];120163297 [pii].
4. Uzzau S, Figueroa-Bossi N, Rubino S, Bossi L (2001) Epitope tagging of chromosomal genes in Salmonella. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 98: 15264-15269. 10.1073/pnas.261348198 [doi];261348198 [pii].