Variations in biofilm formation, desiccation resistance and Benzalkonium chloride susceptibility among Listeria monocytogenes strains isolated in Canada

Marta J. Piercey, Timothy C. Ells, Andrew J. Macintosh, Lisbeth Truelstrup Hansen

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Listeria monocytogenes is a pathogenic foodborne microorganism noted for its ability to survive in the environment and food processing facilities. Survival may be related to the phenotype of individual strains including the ability to form biofilms and resist desiccation and/or sanitizer exposure. The objectives of this research were to compare 14 L. monocytogenes strains isolated from blood (3), food (6) and water (5) with respect to their benzalkonium chloride (BAC) sensitivity, desiccation resistance, and ability to form biofilm. Correlations were tested between those responses, and the presence of the SSI-1 (Stress Survival Islet) and LGI1/CC8 (Listeria Genomic Island 1 in a clonal complex 8 background) genetic markers. Genetic sequences from four strains representing different phenotypes were also probed for predicted amino acid differences in biofilm, desiccation, and membrane related genes. The water isolates were among the most desiccation susceptible strains, while strains exhibiting desiccation resistance harboured SSI-1 or both the SSI-1 and LGI1/CC8 markers. BAC resistance was greatest in planktonic LGI1/CC8 cells (relative to non-LGI1/CC8 cells), and higher BAC concentrations were also needed to inhibit the formation of biofilm by LGI1/CC8 strains during incubation for 48 h and 6 days compared to other strains. Formation of biofilm on stainless steel was not significantly (p > 0.05) different among the strains. Analysis of genetic sequence data from desiccation and BAC sensitive (CP4 5-1, CP5 2-3, both from water), intermediate (Lm568, food) and desiccation and BAC resistant (08 5578, blood, human outbreak) strains led to the finding of amino acid differences in predicted functional protein domains in several biofilm, desiccation and peptidoglycan related genes (e.g., lmo0263, lmo0433, lmo0434, lmo0771, lmo0973, lmo1080, lmo1224, lmo1370, lmo1744, and lmo2558). Notably, the LGI1/CC8 strain 08-5578 had a frameshift mutation in lmo1370, a gene previously associated with desiccation resistance. In conclusion, the more desiccation and BAC resistant LGI1/CC8 isolates may pose a challenge for sanitation efforts.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Food Microbiology
Pages (from-to)254-261
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Sanitation
  • Food processing
  • Food safety
  • Genetic sequence analysis


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