Salmonella research laboratory

Credit: Rocky Mountain Laboratories, NIAID, NIH (public domain)

Research Scientist
Dr. Sandeep Tamber
Bureau of Microbial Hazards, Food Directorate, Health Canada

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Research activity

The goal of the Salmonella Research Laboratory is to reduce the public health burden associated with the presence of Salmonella in the Canadian food supply.

Salmonella is an important bacterial pathogen. In Canada, it causes over 88 000 reported illnesses every year. It is frequently isolated from foods, typically foods of animal origins such as raw meats (chicken, pork, beef), fish, seafood, and eggs. It can also be isolated from fresh produce, nuts, spices, and processed foods (e.g., frozen vegetables, desserts, potato chips, chocolate). The ability to survive in different food environments is an important factor leading to the success of Salmonella as a pathogen.

Our research program strives to understand the adaptations Salmonella uses to live in food and how these adaptations relate to this pathogen’s transmission, virulence, and resistance properties. Knowledge in this area is key to developing better detection methods, guidance for the safe cooking and handling of foods, and interventions to control for the presence of Salmonella in food. The research program is interdisciplinary and touches on many areas including food microbiology, bacterial physiology, gene regulation, molecular biology, and genomics.

Consumer information on Salmonella

Methods of Analysis

Public Health Agency of Canada

International Links

Current research projects

  1. Improved methods for the detection of Salmonella in foods
    • The Salmonella Research Laboratory is working to improve current detection methods for this pathogen in a variety of food matrices. In addition to traditional culture-based approaches, the lab is investigating more rapid methods using molecular and sequence-based approaches. This research will ensure that Government of Canada laboratories are equipped with the latest, most-reliable methods to detect Salmonella in foods.
  2. Survival of Salmonella in foods
    • The Salmonella Research Laboratory studies the survival of the bacteria in various foods in order to provide the best scientific evidence available for risk management activities. Examples of foods the lab has studied in the past include sprouted chia and flax seed powders, frozen and breaded chicken products, oysters, and frozen corn.
  3. Microbiological analysis of foods naturally contaminated with Salmonella
    • In collaboration with food safety partners, the Salmonella Research Laboratory performs microbiological and physicochemical characterization of naturally contaminated food samples. This information is used to support food safety investigations and to inform the development of guidance, standards, and policy.
  4. Understanding Salmonella population structure and virulence
    • Approximately 80% of reported Canadian salmonellosis cases can be attributed to 20 serovars (out of the greater than 2500 known Salmonella serovars). The Salmonella Research Laboratory is conducting research in order to understand the genetic basis for phenotypic differences between serovars. This information will allow for risk ranking within the genus.
  5. Antimicrobial resistance and food safety
    • Antimicrobial resistance is a global problem that affects multiple sectors. In collaboration with federal food safety partners, the Salmonella Research Laboratory is developing methods to detect foodborne AMR and conducting research to understand plasmid transmission dynamics in foodborne bacteria.


The Salmonella Research Laboratory collaborates with federal labs, provincial partners, and academic laboratories to further its research objectives. Examples of collaborations include the Genomics Research and Development Initiative (GRDI) and Genome Canada.

Recent publications

Directory of scientists

ORCiD Profile


Coulombe G. and Tamber S. Salmonella enterica outbreaks linked to the consumption of tahini and tahini-based products. Microorganisms. 2022 Nov 19; 10(11):2299. doi: 10.3390/microorganisms10112299.

Flint A, Laidlaw A, Li L, Raitt C, Rao M, Cooper A, Weedmark K, Carrillo C, and Tamber S. Choice of DNA extraction method affects detection of bacterial taxa from retail chicken breast. BMC Microbiology. 2022. 22:230. doi: 10.1186/s12866-022-02650-7

Gopinath GR, Jang H, Beaubrun JJ, Gangiredla J, Mammel MK, Müller A, Tamber S, Patel IR, Ewing L, Weinstein LM, Wang CZ, Finkelstein S, Negrete F, Muruvanda T, Allard M, Sockett DC, Pagotto F, Tall BD, Stephan R. 2022. Phylogenomic Analysis of Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica serovar Bovismorbificans from clinical and food samples using whole genome wide core genes and kmer binning methods to identify two distinct polyphyletic genome pathotypes. Microoganisms. 2022. 10, 1199. DPI: 10.3390/microorganisms10061199

Tamber S. Salmonella. In Dikeman, M. ed. Encyclopedia of Meat Sciences, Third Edition. Academic Press. 2023

Gill A, Tamber S, and Yang X. Standard Methods for the Bacteriological Analysis of Meat. In Dikeman, M. ed. Encyclopedia of Meat Sciences, Third Edition. Academic Press. 2023

Herod A, Emond-Rheault JG, Tamber S, Goodridge L, Lévesque RC, Rohde J. Genomic and phenotypic analysis of SspH1 identifies a new Salmonella effector, SspH3. Mol. Micro. 2022. PMID: 34942035 DOI: 10.1111/mmi.14871

Rao M, Laidlaw A, Li L, Young K, and Tamber S. Comparison of methods used for the isolation of third generation cephalosporin resistant Enterobacteriaceae from retail meats. J. Microbiol. Methods. 2021. Oct. 189:106314. doi: 10.1016/j.mimet.2021.106314.

Rao M, and Tamber S. Microbiological analysis of frozen profiteroles and mini chocolate eclairs implicated in a national salmonellosis outbreak. Food Microbiology. 2021. Volume 100, December 2021, 103871

Tamber S, Dougherty B, and Nguy K. Salmonella enterica serovars associated with bacteremia in Canada, 2006–2019. Can. Commun. Dis. Rep. 2021. Jun 9;47(56):259-268. doi: 10.14745/ccdr.v47i56a03. eCollection 2021 Jun 9.

Cooper, AL, Carter C, McLeod H, Wright M, Sritharan P, Tamber S, Wong A, Carrillo C, and Blais BW. Detection of carbapenem-resistance genes in bacteria isolated from wastewater in Ontario. FACETS. 2021. doi:10.1139/facets-2020-0101.

Emond-Rheault JG, Hamel J, Jeukens J, Freschi L, Kukavica-Ibrulj I, Boyle B, Tamber S, Malo D, Franz E, Burnett E, Daigle F, Arya G, Sanderson K, Wiedmann M, Slawson RM, Weadge JT, Stephan R, Bekal S, Gruenheid S, Goodridge LD, Levesque RC. The Salmonella enterica plasmidome as a reservoir of antibiotic resistance. Microorganisms. 2020 8(7):E1016. doi: 10.3390/microorganisms8071016.

Pilar AVC, Petronella N, Dussault FM, Verster AJ, Bekal S, Levesque RC, Goodridge L, and Tamber S. Similar yet different: Phylogenomic analysis to delineate Salmonella and Citrobacter species boundaries. BMC Genomics. 2020. 21(1):377. doi: 10.1186/s12864-020-06780-y

Rao M, Klappholz A, and Tamber S. Effectiveness of preparation practices on the inactivation of Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis in frozen breaded chicken strips. J. Food Protect. 2020. 83(8):1289 – 1295. doi: 10.4315/JFP-19-601.

Cooper AL, Low, AJ, Koziol AG, Thomas MC, Leclair D, Tamber S, Wong A, Blais BW, and Carrillo CD. Systematic evaluation of whole genome sequence-based predictions of Salmonella serotype and antimicrobial resistance. Front. Microbiol. 2020. Apr 3:11:549. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2020.00549

Trmcic A, Man S, Tamber S, Prystajecky N, McIntyre L. A Survey of raw frozen breaded chicken products for Salmonella in British Columbia, Canada and phylogenetically associated illnesses. 2020. J. Food Protect. 83(2):315-325. doi: 10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-19-224.

Tamber S, Montgomery A, Eloranta K, and Buenaventura E. Enumeration and survival of Salmonella enterica in live oyster shellstock harvested from Canadian waters. 2020. J. Food Protect. 83(1):6-12. doi: 10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-19-318.

Petronella N, Kundra P, Auclair O, Hebért K, Rao M, Kingsley K, De Bruyne K, Banerjee S, Gill A, Pagotto F, Tamber S, Ronholm J. Changes detected in the genome sequences of Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, and Salmonella enterica after serial subculturing. 2019. Can J. Microbiol. Jul 29:1-9. doi: 10.1139/cjm-2019-0235.

Gill A, Tamber S, Yang X. Relative response of populations of Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica to exposure to thermal, alkaline and acidic treatments. 2019. Int J. Food Microbiol. 293:94-101. doi: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2019.01.007.

Trmcic A, Chen H, Trząskowska M, Tamber S, Wang S. Biofilm-forming capacity of five Salmonella strains and their fate on postharvest mini cucumbers. 2018. J. Food Protect. 81(11):1871-1879. doi: 10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-18-180.

Tamber S. Population-wide survey of Salmonella enterica response to high pressure processing reveals a diversity of responses and tolerance mechanisms. Applied. Environ. Microbiol. 2018; 84(2): pii: e01673-17. doi: 10.1128/AEM.01673-17.

Colavecchio A, D'Souza Y, Tompkins E, Jeukens J, Freschi L, Emond-Rheault JG, Kukavica-Ibrulj I, Boyle B, Bekal S, Tamber S, Levesque RC, Goodridge LD. Prophage integrase typing Is a useful indicator of genomic diversity in Salmonella enterica. Front. Microbiol. 2017 Jul 10; 8:1283. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2017.01283. eCollection 2017.

Emond-Rheault JG, Jeukens J, Freschi L, Kukavica-Ibrulj I, Boyle B, Dupont MJ, Colavecchio A, Barrere V, Cadieux B, Arya G, Bekal S, Berry C, Burnett E, Cavestri C, Chapin TK, Crouse A, Daigle F, Danyluk MD, Delaquis P, Dewar K, Doualla-Bell F, Fliss I, Fong K, Fournier E, Franz E, Garduno R, Gill A, Gruenheid S, Harris L, Huang CB, Huang H, Johnson R, Joly Y, Kerhoas M, Kong N, Lapointe G, Larivière L, Loignon S, Malo D, Moineau S, Mottawea W, Mukhopadhyay K, Nadon C, Nash J, Ngueng Feze I, Ogunremi D, Perets A, Pilar AV, Reimer AR, Robertson J, Rohde J, Sanderson KE, Song L, Stephan R, Tamber S, Thomassin P, Tremblay D, Usongo V, Vincent C, Wang S, Weadge JT, Wiedmann M, Wijnands L, Wilson ED, Wittum T, Yoshida C, Youfsi K, Zhu L, Weimer BC, Goodridge L, Levesque RC. A Syst-OMICS approach to ensuring food safety and reducing the economic burden of salmonellosis. Front. Microbiol. 2017 Jun 2; 8:996. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2017.00996. eCollection 2017.

Catford A, Ganz K, Tamber S. Enumerative analysis of Salmonella in outbreak-associated breaded and frozen comminuted raw chicken products. J. Food Protect. 2017; 80(5):814-818. doi: 10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-16-496.

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