Molecular characterization of Listeria monocytogenes of the serotype 4b complex (4b, 4d, 4e) from two turkey processing plants

Foodborne Pathog Dis. Fall 2005;2(3):192-200. doi: 10.1089/fpd.2005.2.192.


Most foodborne outbreaks of listeriosis have been found to involve a small number of closely related strains of Listeria monocytogenes serotype 4b. The ecology of these organisms and their reservoirs in nature or in the processing plant environment, however, remain poorly understood. Surveys of environmental samples from two turkey processing plants in the United States indicated presence of L. monocytogenes of the serotype 4b complex (serotype 4b and the closely related serotypes 4d and 4e). In addition, environmental and raw product samples from one plant repeatedly yielded isolates with genetic markers typical of two major serotype 4b epidemic clonal groups, ECI and ECII. The pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) profiles of these isolates, however, were clearly distinct from those of confirmed epidemic-associated strains. Furthermore, we observed minor but consistent differences in PFGE profiles of isolates that harbored ECI- or ECII-specific genetic markers, and that were obtained at different sampling times from the same plant. The findings suggest processing plant persistence (or repeated introductions) and genomic diversification of L. monocytogenes serotype 4b isolates that harbor ECI- or ECII-specific genetic markers. Such diversification would need to be taken into consideration in further efforts to elucidate the evolution and epidemiology of these organisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA, Bacterial / analysis*
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Disease Reservoirs
  • Electrophoresis, Gel, Pulsed-Field / methods
  • Environmental Microbiology
  • Equipment Contamination
  • Food Contamination / analysis*
  • Food Microbiology
  • Food-Processing Industry / standards*
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Listeria monocytogenes / classification*
  • Listeria monocytogenes / genetics
  • Listeria monocytogenes / isolation & purification
  • Listeriosis
  • Serotyping
  • Turkeys / microbiology*


  • DNA, Bacterial