Bacteria And Fungi On Coriander Seeds

I love cooking with cilantro, the plant that produces coriander seeds. Coriander seeds are easy to grind in a blender or coffee grinder. This flavorful herb and spice merges wonderfully with many other herbs adding almost a floral aroma to curries and softening other spices. In my garden I have several beautiful cilantro plants, but with my appetite for herbs there seems to be never enough. So I decided to add a few more plants to my cilantro patch.

Although commercial seeds intented for food consumption are usually heat treated, I was able to grow plants from food grade seeds such as sesame in the past. So I took a few seeds from a jar of coriander seeds that I purchased at the local "The Fresh Market" store and soaked them overnight on a moist paper towel.

Coriander seeds bought at The Fresh Market

This product is distributed by The Fresh Market, Greensboro, NC. The funny thing is that the company lists it as "Product of Egypt or Kenya." No kidding. They are NOT sure where it comes from. The next morning I checked on the seeds. They did not look good at all. There was an unmistakable fungal and bacterial growth on all of them. Fearing, that it might be one of those cancer-causing fungi or pathogenic bacteria, I decided to do some testing. First, I incubated the seeds on TSA agar at 30 degrees C for 12 hours. This is what the bacterial colony looked like:

Bacteria growing on coriander seeds

Bacteria and fungi growing on coriander seeds bought at The Fresh Market store

Under the microscope, most bacteria looked like short rods with tumbling motility which is characteristic of Listeria species. There were also other rod-shaped bacteria but they seemed to be in the minority. On TSA agar the fungal growth was clearly suppressed by the bacteria. However, on the potato dextrose agar the picture was reverse.

Fungi growing on coriander seeds

Fungi growing on coriander seeds bought at The Fresh Market store

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