Chlorine resistance of Listeria monocytogenes biofilms and relationship to subtype, cell density, and planktonic cell chlorine resistance

J Food Prot. 2006 Jun;69(6):1292-6. doi: 10.4315/0362-028x-69.6.1292.


Strains of Listeria monocytogenes vary in their ability to produce biofilms. This research determined if cell density, planktonic chlorine resistance, or subtype are associated with the resistance of L. monocytogenes biofilms to chlorine. Thirteen strains of L. monocytogenes were selected for this research based on biofilm accumulation on stainless steel and rep-PCR subtyping. These strains were challenged with chlorine to determine the resistance of individual strains of L. monocytogenes. Planktonic cells were exposed to 20 to 80 ppm sodium hypochlorite in 20 ppm increments for 5 min in triplicate per replication, and the experiment was replicated three times. The number of tubes with surviving L. monocytogenes was recorded for each isolate at each level of chlorine. Biofilms of each strain were grown on stainless steel coupons. The biofilms were exposed 60 ppm of sodium hypochlorite. When in planktonic culture, four strains were able to survive exposure to 40 ppm of chlorine, whereas four strains were able to survive 80 ppm of chlorine in at least one of three tubes. The remaining five strains survived exposure to 60 ppm of chlorine. Biofilms of 11 strains survived exposure to 60 ppm of chlorine. No association of biofilm chlorine resistance and planktonic chlorine resistance was observed; however, biofilm chorine resistance was similar for strains of the same subtype. Biofilm cell density was not associated with chlorine resistance. In addition, biofilms that survived chlorine treatment exhibited different biofilm morphologies. These data suggest that chlorine resistance mechanisms of planktonic cells and biofilms differ, with planktonic chlorine resistance being more affected by inducible traits, and biofilm chlorine resistance being more affected by traits not determined in this study.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biofilms / drug effects*
  • Biofilms / growth & development
  • Chlorine / pharmacology*
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Disinfectants / pharmacology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial* / genetics
  • Food Microbiology*
  • Listeria monocytogenes / drug effects*
  • Listeria monocytogenes / genetics
  • Listeria monocytogenes / physiology
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Stainless Steel
  • Time Factors


  • Disinfectants
  • Stainless Steel
  • Chlorine