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Listeria monocytogenes strains show large variations in competitive growth in mixed culture biofilms and suspensions with bacteria from food processing environments

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Kjetil Aune


International journal of food microbiology ; Volume 275. p. 46–55. 2018

Heir, Even; Møretrø, Trond; Simensen, Andreas; Simensen, Andreas; Langsrud, Solveig

Interactions and competition between resident bacteria in food processing environments could affect their ability to survive, grow and persist in microhabitats and niches in the food industry. In this study, the competitive ability of L. monocytogenes strains grown together in separate culture mixes with other L. monocytogenes (L. mono mix), L. innocua (Listeria mix), Gram-negative bacteria (Gram− mix) and with a multigenera mix (Listeria + Gram− mix) was investigated in biofilms on stainless steel and in suspensions at 12 °C. The mixed cultures included resident bacteria from processing surfaces in meat and salmon industry represented by L. monocytogenes (n = 6), L. innocua (n = 5) and Gram-negative bacteria (n = 6; Acinetobacter sp., Pseudomonas fragi, Pseudomonas fluorescens, Serratia liquefaciens, Stenotrophomonas maltophilia). Despite hampered in growth in mixed cultures, L. monocytogenes established in biofilms with counts at day nine between 7.3 and 9.0 log per coupon with the lowest counts in the Listeria + G− mix that was dominated by Pseudomonas. Specific L. innocua inhibited growth of L. monocytogenes strains differently; inhibition that was further enhanced by the background Gram-negative microbiota. In these multispecies and multibacteria cultures, the growth competitive effects lead to the dominance of a strong competitor L. monocytogenes strain that was only slightly inhibited by L. innocua and showed strong competitive abilities in mixed cultures with resident Gram-negative bacteria. The results indicates complex patterns of bacterial interactions and L. monocytogenes inhibition in the multibacteria cultures that only partially depend on cell contact and likely involve various antagonistic and bacterial tolerance mechanisms. The study indicates large variations among L. monocytogenes in their competitiveness under multibacterial culture conditions that should be considered in further studies towards understanding of L. monocytogenes persistence in food processing facilities.

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