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Processing plant persistent strains of Listeria monocytogenes appear to have a lower virulence potential than clinical strains in selected virulence models

Elsevier BV
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Listeria monocytogenes is an important foodborne bacterial pathogen that can colonize food processing equipment. One group of genetically similar L. monocytogenes strains (RAPID type 9) was recently shown to reside in several independent fish processing plants. Persistent strains are likely to contaminate food products, and it is important to determine their virulence potential to evaluate risk to consumers. We compared the behaviour of food processing persistent and clinical L. monocytogenes strains in four virulence models: Adhesion, invasion and intracellular growth was studied in an epithelial cell line, Caco-2; time to death in a nematode model, Caenorhabditis elegans and in a fruit fly model, Drosophila melanogaster and fecal shedding in a guinea pig model. All strains adhered to and grew in Caco-2 cells in similar levels. When exposed to 10(6) CFU/ml, two strains representing the persistent RAPD type 9 invaded Caco-2 cells in lower numbers (10(2)-10(3) CFU/ml) as compared to the four other strains (10(4)-10(6) CFU/ml), including food and human clinical strains. In the D. melanogaster model, the two RAPD type 9 strains were among the slowest to kill. Similarly, the time to reach 50% killed C elegans worms was longer (110 h) for the RAPD type 9 strains than for the other four strains (80 h). The Scott A strain and one RAPD type 9 strain were suspended in whipping cream before being fed to guinea pigs and the persistent RAPD type 9 strain was isolated from feces in a lower level (approximately 10(2) CFU/g) than the Scott A strain (approximately 10(5) CFU/g) (P

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