A novel metagenomic approach uncovers phage genes as markers for increased disinfectant tolerance in mixed Listeria monocytogenes communities

Agnete Kirstine Karlsmose, Mirena Ivanova, Martin Laage Kragh, Jette Sejer Kjeldgaard, Saria Otani, Christina Aaby Svendsen, Bojan Papić, Irena Zdovc, Taurai Tasara, Roger Stephan, Even Heir, Solveig Langsrud, Trond Møretrø, Paw Dalgaard, Annette Fagerlund, Lisbeth Truelstrup Hansen, Frank M. Aarestrup, Pimlapas Leekitcharoenphon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Abstract

Listeria monocytogenes is an important human pathogen with a high mortality rate. Consumption of contaminated ready-to-eat food is the main mode of transmission to humans. Disinfectant-tolerant L. monocytogenes have emerged, which are believed to have increased persistence potential. Elucidating the mechanisms of L. monocytogenes disinfectant tolerance has been the focus of previous studies using pure cultures. A limitation of such approach is the difficulty to identify strains with reduced susceptibility due to inter-strain variation and the need to screen large numbers of strains and genes. In this study, we applied a novel metagenomic approach to detect genes associated with disinfectant tolerance in mixed L. monocytogenes planktonic communities. Two communities, consisting of 71 and 80 isolates each, were treated with the food industry disinfectants benzalkonium chloride (BC, 1.75 mg/L) or peracetic acid (PAA, 38 mg/L). The communities were subjected to metagenomic sequencing and differences in individual gene abundances between biocide-free control communities and biocide-treated communities were determined. A significant increase in the abundance of Listeria phage-associated genes was observed in both communities after treatment, suggesting that prophage carriage could lead to an increased disinfectant tolerance in mixed L. monocytogenes planktonic communities. In contrast, a significant decrease in the abundance of a high-copy emrC-harbouring plasmid pLmN12–0935 was observed in both communities after treatment. In PAA-treated community, a putative ABC transporter previously found to be necessary for L. monocytogenes resistance to antimicrobial agents and virulence, was among the genes with the highest weight for differentiating treated from control samples. The undertaken metagenomic approach in this study can be applied to identify genes associated with increased tolerance to other antimicrobials in mixed bacterial communities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105582
JournalInfection, Genetics and Evolution
Volume119
Number of pages12
ISSN1567-1348
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Keywords

  • Listeria monocytogenes
  • Shotgun metagenomics
  • Disinfectant tolerance
  • QAC
  • Mixed communities
  • Food safety

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