Volume 16, Issue 2 p. 405-416
Research article

The ubiquitous nature of Listeria monocytogenes clones: a large-scale Multilocus Sequence Typing study

Jana K. Haase

Jana K. Haase

Environmental Research Institute, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland

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Xavier Didelot

Xavier Didelot

Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Imperial College London, London, UK

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Marc Lecuit

Marc Lecuit

Institut Pasteur, Biology of Infection Unit, National Reference Centre and WHO collaborating centre for Listeria, Inserm Unit 1117, Paris, France

Division of Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine, Necker-Enfants Malades University Hospital, APHP, Paris, France

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Hannu Korkeala

Hannu Korkeala

University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

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L. monocytogenes MLST Study Group

L. monocytogenes MLST Study Group

Listeria monocytogenes MLST study group: Alexandre Leclercq (Institut Pasteur, Paris, France), Kathy Grant (Health Protection Agency, London, UK), Martin Wiedmann (Cornell University Ithaca, Ithaca, New York, U.S.A.) and Petra Apfalter (Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety, Vienna, Austria).Search for more papers by this author
Mark Achtman

Corresponding Author

Mark Achtman

Environmental Research Institute, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland

Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL UK

For correspondence. E-mail [email protected]; Tel. (+44) 247657 5592; Fax (+44) 247657 4637.Search for more papers by this author
First published: 26 November 2013
Citations: 50

Summary

Listeria monocytogenes is ubiquitously prevalent in natural environments and is transmitted via the food chain to animals and humans, in whom it can cause life-threatening diseases. We used Multilocus Sequence Typing (MLST) of ∼2000 isolates of L. monocytogenes to investigate whether specific associations existed between clonal complexes (CCs) and the environment versus diseased hosts. Most CCs (72%) were not specific for any single source, and many have been isolated from the environment, food products, animals as well as from humans. Our results confirm that the population structure of L. monocytogenes is largely clonal and consists of four lineages (I–IV), three of which contain multiple CCs. Most CCs have remained stable for decades, but one epidemic clone (CC101) was common in the mid-1950s and very rare until recently when it may have begun to re-emerge. The historical perspective used here indicates that the central sequence types of CCs were not ancestral founders but have rather simply increased in frequency over decades.