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Distribution of Epidemic Clonal Genetic Markers among Listeria monocytogenes 4b Isolates

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Recent genome sequencing of isolates of Listeria monocytogenes serotype 4b implicated in some major outbreaks of foodborne listeriosis has revealed unique genetic markers in these isolates. The isolates were grouped into two distinct epidemic clones, ECI and ECII. In the present study, selected ECI- and ECII-specific genetic markers were detected in 16 and 15 of 89 L. monocytogenes 4b isolates, respectively. The ECI markers were found in 6 of 34 clinical isolates, 9 of 50 food isolates, and 1 of 5 environmental isolates, and the ECII markers were detected in 7 of 34 clinical isolates, 7 of 50 food isolates, and 1 of 5 environmental isolates. Hence, of the isolates with the epidemic clonal genetic markers, 38% (13 of 34) were of clinical origin, 32% (16 of 50) were of food origin, and 40% (2 of 5) were of environmental origin. The predominance of the epidemic clonal markers among the clinical and environmental isolates supports the hypothesis that these markers are correlated with the pathogenic potential of strains and with their environmental persistence. Several isolates had only one epidemic clonal marker, either the ECI-specific marker 133 or the ECII-specific marker 4bSF18. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis analysis revealed higher genomic diversity among the strains with ECII-like characteristics than among those strains carrying the ECI-specific genetic markers.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Laboratory of Food Microbial Hazards, National Center for Food Quality and Risk Assessment, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy 2: Department of Biology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Tuzla, Tuzla, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Publication date: March 1, 2007

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