Genomic characterization of listeria monocytogenes isolates associated with clinical listeriosis and the food production environment in ireland
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Hilliard, Amber; Leong, Dara; O’Callaghan, Amy; Culligan, Eamonn; Morgan, Ciara; DeLappe, Niall; Hill, Colin; Jordan, Kieran; Cormican, Martin; Gahan, Cormac (2018). Genomic characterization of listeria monocytogenes isolates associated with clinical listeriosis and the food production environment in ireland. Genes 9 (3),
Listeria monocytogenes is a major human foodborne pathogen that is prevalent in the natural environment and has a high case fatality rate. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) analysis has emerged as a valuable methodology for the classification of L. monocytogenes isolates and the identification of virulence islands that may influence infectivity. In this study, WGS was used to provide an insight into 25 L. monocytogenes isolates from cases of clinical infection in Ireland between 2013 and 2015. Clinical strains were either lineage I (14 isolates) or lineage II (11 isolates), with 12 clonal complexes (CC) represented, of which CC1 (6) and CC101 (4) were the most common. Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) analysis demonstrated that clinical isolates from mother-infant pairs (one isolate from the mother and one from the infant) were highly related (3 SNP differences in each) and also identified close similarities between isolates from otherwise distinct cases (1 SNP difference). Clinical strains were positive for common virulence-associated loci and 13 isolates harbour the LIPI-3 locus. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) was used to compare strains to a database of 1300 Irish food and food processing environment isolates and determined that 64% of clinical pulsotypes were previously encountered in the food or food processing environment. Five of the matching food and food processing environment isolates were sequenced and results demonstrated a correlation between pulsotype and genotype. Overall, the work provides insights into the nature of L. monocytogenes strains currently causing clinical disease in Ireland and indicates that similar isolates can be found in the food or food processing environment.