New research could help fight listeriosis

25-10-2006 | | |

New research by the US Agricultural Research Service (ARS) could help in developing a management strategy for the deadly Listeria monocytogenes, a pathogen that causes listeriosis.

It is estimated that Listeria, which can be found in raw and cooked poultry, causes approximately 1,600 cases of listeriosis annually, resulting in 415 deaths. This research will be useful in preventing Listeria contamination and in reducing disease.
Scientists at the ARS Eastern Regional Research Center (ERRC) and The Institute for Genomic Research have sequenced the genomes of four L. monocytogenes strains, representing three serotypes.
Researchers found that Listeria strains, in addition to sharing serotype-specific and strain-specific genome sequences, have largely similar genetic content and organisation.
The scientists also confirmed that Listeria strains have 15 genes in the Crp/Fnr regulatory protein family, which is considerably more than most bacteria. Luchansky and his colleagues are investigating whether these sequences influence the bacterium’s virulence or persistence.
The scientists have identified specific genes that warrant further investigation. They’re also pursuing proteomics and genomics studies. This involves identifying phenotypes, or observable characteristics, understanding the relationships between different strains and investigating different control methods.
Knowing more about L. monocytogenes will help regulatory agencies and members of the food industry make informed decisions about control strategies and safety standards. In addition, uncovering the genetic information that defines Listeria’s characteristics and behaviour will help scientists understand the bacterium’s virulence and persistence.
For more information on Listeria, see the About Listeria wesbite.

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