• Effectiveness of current hygiene practices on minimization of Listeria monocytogenes in different mushroom production‐related environments

      Pennone, Vincenzo; Dygico, Kenneth Lyonel; Coffey, Aidan; Gahan, Cormac G.M.; Grogan, Helen; McAuliffe, Olivia; Burgess, Catherine M.; Jordan, Kieran; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 14/F/881 (Wiley, 2020-05-20)
      Background: The commercial production of Agaricus bisporus is a three stage process: 1) production of compost, also called “substrate”; 2) production of casing soil; and 3) production of the mushrooms. Hygiene practices are undertaken at each stage: pasteurization of the substrate, hygiene practices applied during the production of casing soil, postharvest steam cookout, and disinfection at the mushroom production facilities. However, despite these measures, foodborne pathogens, including Listeria monocytogenes, are reported in the mushroom production environment. In this work, the presence of L. monocytogenes was evaluated before and after the application of hygiene practices at each stage of mushroom production with swabs, samples of substrate, casing, and spent mushroom growing substrates. Results: L. monocytogenes was not detected in any casing or substrate sample by enumeration according to BS EN ISO 11290-2:1998. Analysis of the substrate showed that L. monocytogenes was absent in 10 Phase II samples following pasteurization, but was then present in 40% of 10 Phase III samples. At the casing production facility, 31% of 59 samples were positive. Hygiene improvements were applied, and after four sampling occasions, 22% of 37 samples were positive, but no statistically significant difference was observed (p > .05). At mushroom production facilities, the steam cookout process inactivated L. monocytogenes in the spent growth substrate, but 13% of 15 floor swabs at Company 1 and 19% of 16 floor swabs at Company 2, taken after disinfection, were positive. Conclusion: These results showed the possibility of L. monocytogenes recontamination of Phase III substrate, cross-contamination at the casing production stage and possible survival after postharvest hygiene practices at the mushroom growing facilities. This information will support the development of targeted measures to minimize L. monocytogenes in the mushroom industry.
    • Inhibition of L. monocytogenes Biofilm Formation by the Amidase Domain of the Phage vB_LmoS_293 Endolysin

      Pennone, Vincenzo; Sanz-Gaitero, Marta; O'Connor, Paula; Coffey, Aidan; Jordan, Kieran; van Raaij, Mark J; McAuliffe, Olivia; Spanish Ministry of Science; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; et al. (MDPI, 2019-08-06)
      Listeria monocytogenes is a ubiquitous Gram-positive bacterium that is a major concern for food business operators because of its pathogenicity and ability to form biofilms in food production environments. Bacteriophages (phages) have been evaluated as biocontrol agents for L. monocytogenes in a number of studies and, indeed, certain phages have been approved for use as anti-listerial agents in food processing environments (ListShield and PhageGuard Listex). Endolysins are proteins produced by phages in the host cell. They cleave the peptidoglycan cell wall, thus allowing release of progeny phage into the environment. In this study, the amidase domain of the phage vB_LmoS_293 endolysin (293-amidase) was cloned and expressed in Escherichia. coli(E. coli). Muralytic activity at different concentrations, pH and temperature values, lytic spectrum and activity against biofilms was determined for the purified 293-amidase protein. The results showed activity on autoclaved cells at three different temperatures (20 °C, 37 °C and 50 °C), with a wider specificity (L. monocytogenes 473 and 3099, a serotype 4b and serogroup 1/2b-3b-7, respectively) compared to the phage itself, which targets only L. monocytogenes serotypes 4b and 4e. The protein also inhibits biofilm formation on abiotic surfaces. These results show the potential of using recombinant antimicrobial proteins against pathogens in the food production environment.
    • A Review on the Applications of Next Generation Sequencing Technologies as Applied to Food-Related Microbiome Studies

      Cao, Yu; Fanning, Seamus; Proos, Sinead; Jordan, Kieran; Srikumar, Shabarinath; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Enterprise Ireland; 13/F/423; IP 2015 0380 (Frontiers, 2017-09-21)
      The development of next generation sequencing (NGS) techniques has enabled researchers to study and understand the world of microorganisms from broader and deeper perspectives. The contemporary advances in DNA sequencing technologies have not only enabled finer characterization of bacterial genomes but also provided deeper taxonomic identification of complex microbiomes which in its genomic essence is the combined genetic material of the microorganisms inhabiting an environment, whether the environment be a particular body econiche (e.g., human intestinal contents) or a food manufacturing facility econiche (e.g., floor drain). To date, 16S rDNA sequencing, metagenomics and metatranscriptomics are the three basic sequencing strategies used in the taxonomic identification and characterization of food-related microbiomes. These sequencing strategies have used different NGS platforms for DNA and RNA sequence identification. Traditionally, 16S rDNA sequencing has played a key role in understanding the taxonomic composition of a food-related microbiome. Recently, metagenomic approaches have resulted in improved understanding of a microbiome by providing a species-level/strain-level characterization. Further, metatranscriptomic approaches have contributed to the functional characterization of the complex interactions between different microbial communities within a single microbiome. Many studies have highlighted the use of NGS techniques in investigating the microbiome of fermented foods. However, the utilization of NGS techniques in studying the microbiome of non-fermented foods are limited. This review provides a brief overview of the advances in DNA sequencing chemistries as the technology progressed from first, next and third generations and highlights how NGS provided a deeper understanding of food-related microbiomes with special focus on non-fermented foods.
    • Transcriptome analysis of Listeria monocytogenes exposed to biocide stress reveals a multi-system response involving cell wall synthesis, sugar uptake, and motility

      Casey, A.; Fox, Edward M.; Schmitz-Esser, Stephan; Coffey, Aidan; McAuliffe, Olivia; Jordan, Kieran; European Union; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; 265877; 266061 (Frontiers Media SA, 28/02/2014)
      Listeria monocytogenes is a virulent food-borne pathogen most often associated with the consumption of “ready-to-eat” foods. The organism is a common contaminant of food processing plants where it may persist for extended periods of time. A commonly used approach for the control of Listeria monocytogenes in the processing environment is the application of biocides such as quaternary ammonium compounds. In this study, the transcriptomic response of a persistent strain of L. monocytogenes (strain 6179) on exposure to a sub-lethal concentration of the quaternary ammonium compound benzethonium chloride (BZT) was assessed. Using RNA-Seq, gene expression levels were quantified by sequencing the transcriptome of L. monocytogenes 6179 in the presence (4 ppm) and absence of BZT, and mapping each data set to the sequenced genome of strain 6179. Hundreds of differentially expressed genes were identified, and subsequent analysis suggested that many biological processes such as peptidoglycan biosynthesis, bacterial chemotaxis and motility, and carbohydrate uptake, were involved in the response of L. monocyotogenes to the presence of BZT. The information generated in this study further contributes to our understanding of the response of bacteria to environmental stress. In addition, this study demonstrates the importance of using the bacterium's own genome as a reference when analysing RNA-Seq data.
    • Virulence Gene Sequencing Highlights Similarities and Differences in Sequences in Listeria monocytogenes Serotype 1/2a and 4b Strains of Clinical and Food Origin From 3 Different Geographic Locations

      Poimenidou, Sofia V.; Dalmasso, Marion; Papadimitriou, Konstantinos; Fox, Edward M.; Skandamis, Panagiotis N.; Jordan, Kieran; European Union; 265877 (Frontiers, 2018-06-05)
      The prfA-virulence gene cluster (pVGC) is the main pathogenicity island in Listeria monocytogenes, comprising the prfA, plcA, hly, mpl, actA, and plcB genes. In this study, the pVGC of 36 L. monocytogenes isolates with respect to different serotypes (1/2a or 4b), geographical origin (Australia, Greece or Ireland) and isolation source (food-associated or clinical) was characterized. The most conserved genes were prfA and hly, with the lowest nucleotide diversity (π) among all genes (P < 0.05), and the lowest number of alleles, substitutions and non-synonymous substitutions for prfA. Conversely, the most diverse gene was actA, which presented the highest number of alleles (n = 20) and showed the highest nucleotide diversity. Grouping by serotype had a significantly lower π value (P < 0.0001) compared to isolation source or geographical origin, suggesting a distinct and well-defined unit compared to other groupings. Among all tested genes, only hly and mpl were those with lower nucleotide diversity in 1/2a serotype than 4b serotype, reflecting a high within-1/2a serotype divergence compared to 4b serotype. Geographical divergence was noted with respect to the hly gene, where serotype 4b Irish strains were distinct from Greek and Australian strains. Australian strains showed less diversity in plcB and mpl relative to Irish or Greek strains. Notable differences regarding sequence mutations were identified between food-associated and clinical isolates in prfA, actA, and plcB sequences. Overall, these results indicate that virulence genes follow different evolutionary pathways, which are affected by a strain's origin and serotype and may influence virulence and/or epidemiological dominance of certain subgroups.
    • Whole genome sequence analysis; an improved technology that identifies underlying genotypic differences between closely related Listeria monocytogenes strains

      Fox, Edward M.; Casey, Aidan; Jordan, Kieran; Coffey, Aidan; Gahan, Cormac G.M.; McAuliffe, Olivia (Elsevier, 2017-07-08)
      As the new technology of whole genome sequencing (WGS) has been shown to have greater discriminatory power in differentiating strains than the much-used pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), there is currently a transition from using PFGE to WGS for disease outbreak investigation. Therefore, there is a need for comparison of bacterial isolates using both PFGE and WGS. In this study, two pairs of L. monocytogenes strains with geographically diverse sources of isolation but which had indistinguishable or closely related PFGE profiles, were subjected to WGS analysis. Comparative analysis of their genomes showed that one pair of strains which had closely related PFGE profiles in fact differed significantly from one another in terms of their antibiotic and heavy metal stress resistance determinants, and mobile genetic elements. Therefore, this research demonstrated the ability of WGS analysis to differentiate very closely related strains and that WGS analysis represents the most effective tool available for subtyping L. monocytogenes isolates.