Listeria: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Scientific classification
Division: Firmicutes
Class: Bacilli
Order: Bacillales
Family: Listeriaceae
Genus: Listeria
Pirie 1940

L. grayi
L. innocua
L. ivanovii
L. monocytogenes
L. seeligeri
L. welshimeri

Listeria is a bacterial genus containing six species. Named after the English pioneer of sterile surgery, Joseph Lister, Listeria species are Gram-positive bacilli and are typified by L. monocytogenes, the causative agent of listeriosis.

Listeria ivanovii is a pathogen of ruminants, and can infect mice in the laboratory, although it is only rarely the cause of human disease.


Listeria monocytogenes

Listeria monocytogenes is a bacterium commonly found in soil, stream water, sewage, plants, and food.[1] Each bacterium is gram-positive and rod-shaped. Listeria are known to be the bacteria responsible for listeriosis, a rare but potentially lethal food-borne infection: the case fatality rate for those with a severe form of infection may approach 25%[2] (Salmonella, in comparison, has a mortality rate estimated at less than 1%[3]). They are incredibly hardy and able to grow in temperatures ranging from 4°C (39°F), the temperature of a refrigerator, to 37°C (99°F), the body's internal temperature[1]. Furthermore, listerosis's deadliness can be partially attributed to the infection's ability to spread to the nervous system and cause meningitis.[1] Finally, Listeria has a particularly high occurrence rate in newborns because of its ability to infect the fetus by penetrating the endothelial layer of the placenta.[2] Vegetables can become contaminated from the soil, and animals can also be carriers. Listeria has been found in uncooked meats, uncooked vegetables, unpasteurized milk, foods made from unpasteurized milk, and processed foods. Listeria is killed by pasteurization and cooking. There is a chance that contamination may occur in ready-to-eat foods such as hot dogs and deli meats because contamination may occur after cooking and before packaging.1


Listeria uses the cellular machinery to move around inside the host cell: it induces directed polymerization of actin by the ActA transmembrane protein, thus pushing the bacterial cell around.

Listeria monocytogenes, for example, encodes virulence genes which are thermoregulated. The expression of virulence factor is optimal at 37 degrees Celsius and is controlled by a transcriptional activator, PrfA, whose expression is thermoregulated by the PrfA thermoregulator UTR element. At low temperatures, the PrfA transcript is not translated due to structural elements near the ribosome binding site. As the bacteria infects the host, the temperature of the host melts the structure and allows translation initiation for the virulent genes.

Listeria monocytogenes is a Gram-positive rod-shaped bacterium. It is the agent of listeriosis, a serious infection caused by eating food contaminated with the bacteria. The disease affects primarily pregnant women, newborns, and adults with weakened immune systems. Listeriosis is a serious disease for humans; the overt form of the disease has a mortality greater than 25 percent. The two main clinical manifestations are sepsis and meningitis. Meningitis is often complicated by encephalitis, a pathology that is unusual for bacterial infections. Microscopically, Listeria species appear as small, Gram-positive rods, which are sometimes arranged in short chains. In direct smears they may be coccoid, so they can be mistaken for streptococci. Longer cells may resemble corynebacteria.   Flagella are produced at room temperature but not at 37°C. Hemolytic activity on blood agar has been used as a marker to distinguish Listeria monocytogenes among other Listeria species, but it is not an absolutely definitive criterion. Further biochemical characterization may be necessary to distinguish between the different Listeria species. As Gram-positive, nonsporeforming, catalase-positive rods, the genus Listeria was classified in the family Corynebacteriaceae through the seventh edition of Bergey's Manual. 16S rRNA cataloging studies of Stackebrandt et al. demonstrated that Listeria monocytogenes was a distinct taxon within the Lactobacillus-Bacillus branch of the bacterial phylogeny constructed by Woese. In 2001, the Famiiy Listeriaceae was created within the expanding Order Bacillales, which also includes Staphylococcaceae, Bacillaceae and others. Within this phylogeny there are six species of Listeria. The only other genus in the family is Brochothrix.

Mechanism of infection

The majority of Listeria bacteria are targeted by the immune system before they are able to cause infection. Those that escape the immune system's initial response, however, spread though intracellular mechanisms and are therefore guarded against circulating immune factors (AMI).[2]

To invade, Listeria induces macrophage phagocytic uptake by displaying D-galactose in their teichoic acids that are then bound by the macrophage's polysaccharide receptors . Other important adhesins are the internalins.[3] Once phagocytosed, the bacterium is encapsulated by the host cell's acidic phagolysosome organelle.[1] Listeria, however, escapes the phagolysosome by lysing the vacuole's entire membrane with secreted hemolysin,[4] now characterized as the exotoxin listeriolysin O.[1] The bacteria then replicate inside the host cell's cytoplasm.[2]

Listeria must then navigate to the cell's periphery to spread the infection to other cells. Outside of the body, Listeria has flagellar-driven motility, sometimes described as a "tumbling motility." However, at 37°C, flagella cease to develop and the bacterium instead usurps the host cell's cytoskeleton to move.[2] Listeria, inventively, polymerizes an actin tail or "comet" [4], using host-produced actin filaments [5] with the promotion of virulence factor ActA[2]. The comet forms in a polar manner [6] and aids the bacteria's migration to the host cell's outer membrane. Gelsolin, an actin filament severing protein, localizes at the tail of Listeria and accelerates the bacterium's motility.[6] Once at the cell surface, the actin-propelled Listeria pushes against the cell's membrane to form protrusions called filopods[1] or "rockets". The protrusions are guided by the cell's leading edge [7] to contact adjacent cells which subsequently engulf the Listeria rocket and the process is repeated, perpetuating the infection.[2] Once phagocytosed, the Listeria is never again extracellular: it is an intracytoplasmic parasite [4] like Shigella flexneri and Rickettsia.[2]


The Center for Science in the Public Interest has published a list of foods that have sometimes caused outbreaks of Listeria: hot dogs, deli meats, raw milk, cheeses (particularly soft-ripened cheeses like feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined, or Mexican-style “queso blanco”), raw and cooked poultry, raw meats, ice cream, raw vegetables, raw and smoked fish and the green lip mussel.[8]


The prevention of Listeria as a food illness involves effective sanitation of food contact surfaces. Alcohol has proven to be an effective topical sanitizer against Listeria. Quaternary ammonium can be used in conjunction with alcohol as a food contact safe sanitizer with increased duration of the sanitizing action. Nonflammable Alcohol Vapour in carbon dioxide NAV-CO2 systems or sodium hypochlorite are frequently used to sanitize surfaces to prevent Listeria. Refrigerated foods in the home should be kept below 4C to discourage bacterial growth.[9] preventing listeria also can be done by carrying out an effecitve sanitation of food contact surfaces.

Modern relevance/future research

Listeria is an opportunistic pathogen: it is most prevalent in the elderly, pregnant mothers, and AIDS patients. With improved healthcare leading to a growing elderly population and extended life expectancies for AIDS patients, physicians are more likely to encounter this otherwise rare infection (only 7 per 1,000,000 healthy people are infected with virulent Listeria each year).[1] Better understanding the cell biology of Listeria infections, including relevant virulence factors, may help us better treat Listeriosis and other intracytoplasmic parasites. Researchers are now investigating the use of Listeria as a cancer vaccine, taking advantage of its "ability to induce potent innate and adaptive immunity."[5][10]


Antibiotics effective against Listeria species include ampicillin, vancomycin, ciprofloxacin, linezolid, azithromycin.

Future treatment options

Intralytix has created a virus spray with bacteriophages to be applied to food for the prevention of Listeriosis by killing six strains of L. monocytogenes bacterium.[11] EBI Food Safety has created and put a similar product on the market, LISTEX P100. LISTEX P100 prevents Listerios in food by using bacteriophages for killing Listeria.[12]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "More About Listeria". University of Florida Medical School. Retrieved 2007-03-07.  
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Todar's Online Textbook of Bacteriology". Listeria monocytogenes and Listeriosis. Kenneth Todar University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Biology. 2003. Retrieved 2007-03-07.  
  3. ^ a b "Statistics about Salmonella food poisoning". 27 February 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-07.  
  4. ^ a b c Tinley, L.G. et al. (1989). "Actin Filaments and the Growth, Movement, and Spread of the Intracellular Bacterial Parasite, Listeria monocytogenes". The Journal of Cell Biology 109 (4 Pt 1): 1597–1608. doi:10.1083/jcb.109.4.1597. PMID 2507553. PMC 2115783.  
  5. ^ a b "Listeria". 16 August 2006. doi:.. Retrieved 2007-03-07.  
  6. ^ a b Laine RO, Phaneuf KL, Cunningham CC, Kwiatkowski D, Azuma T, Southwick FS (1 August 1998). "Gelsolin, a protein that caps the barbed ends and severs actin filaments, enhances the actin-based motility of Listeria monocytogenes in host cells". Infect. Immun. 66 (8): 3775–82. PMID 9673261. PMC 108414.  
  7. ^ Galbraith CG, Yamada KM, Galbraith JA (February 2007). "Polymerizing actin fibers position integrins primed to probe for adhesion sites". Science 315 (5814): 992–5. doi:10.1126/science.1137904. PMID 17303755.  
  8. ^ Center for Science in the Public Interest - Nutrition Action Healthletter - Food Safety Guide - Meet the Bugs
  9. ^ "Maple Leaf Foods assessing Listeria-killing chemical". (ctvglobemedia). 2008-10-12. Retrieved 2008-10-15.  
  10. ^ Greenemeier L (May 21, 2008). "Recruiting a Dangerous Foe to Fight Cancer and HIV"]. Scientific American.  
  11. ^ Associated Press - Viruses Approved for Treating Food
  12. ^ Food Quality News - Phage product found effective against Listeria

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3.Bayles, D.O., and B.J. Wilkinson. 2000. Osmoprotectants and cryoprotectants for Listeria monocytogenes. Letters in Applied Microbiology. 30: 23-27.

4.Bredholt, S., J. Maukonen, K. Kujanpaa, T. Alanko, U. Olofson, U. Husmark, A.M. Sjoberg, and G. Wirtanen. 1999. Microbial methods for assessment of cleaning and disinfection of food-processing surfaces cleaned in a low-pressure system. European Food Research and Technology. 209: 145-152.

5.Chae, M.S. and H. Schraft. 2000. Comparative evaluation of adhesion and biofilm formation of different Listeria monocytogenes strains. International Journal of Food Microbiology. 62:103-111.

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External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


Proper noun

Wikipedia has an article on:



  1. a taxonomic genus, within family Listeriaceae - the listeria bacteria
Wikispecies has information on:



Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies


Main Page
Superregnum: Bacteria
Regnum: Bacteria
Phylum: Firmicutes
Classis: Bacilli
Ordo: Bacillales
Familia: Listeriaceae
Genus: Listeria
Species: L. grayi - L. innocua - L. ivanovii - L. monocytogenes - L. seegligeri - L. welshimeri


Listeria Pirie, 1940

Vernacular names

Česky: Listérie
Deutsch: Listerien
日本語: リステリア
Русский: Листерия

Simple English

Scientific classification
Division: Firmicutes
Class: Bacilli
Order: Bacillales
Family: Listeriaceae
Genus: Listeria
Pirie 1940

L. grayi
L. innocua
L. ivanovii
L. monocytogenes
L. seeligeri
L. welshimeri

Listeria is a Gram-positive rod which is not capable of forming endospores. Although several species of this bacterium exist, our discussion will focus only on the two species of human pathogenic significance: L. monocytogenes and L. ivanovii. In particular, L. monocytogenes has been implicated in several food poisoning epidemics.

Listeria are very common, they occur almost everywhere. Some Listeria are pathogens, they can cause a disease called Listeriosis. Listeriosis is usually caused by food gone bad.

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