Cold stress tolerance of Listeria monocytogenes: A review of molecular adaptive mechanisms and food safety implications

J Food Prot. 2006 Jun;69(6):1473-84. doi: 10.4315/0362-028x-69.6.1473.


The foodborne pathogen Listeria monocytogenes has many physiological adaptations that enable survival under a wide range of environmental conditions. The microbes overcome various types of stress, including the cold stress associated with low temperatures in food-production and storage environments. Cold stress adaptation mechanisms are therefore an important attribute of L. monocytogenes, enabling these food pathogens to survive and proliferate to reach minimal infectious levels on refrigerated foods. This phenomenon is a function of many molecular adaptation mechanisms. Therefore, an improved understanding of how cold stress is sensed and adaptation measures implemented by L. monocytogenes may facilitate the development of better ways of controlling these pathogens in food and related environments. Research over the past few years has highlighted some of the molecular aspects of cellular mechanisms behind cold stress adaptation in L. monocytogenes. This review provides an overview of the molecular and physiological constraints of cold stress and discusses the various cellular cold stress response mechanisms in L. monocytogenes, as well as their implications for food safety.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Cold Temperature*
  • Consumer Product Safety*
  • Food Microbiology
  • Humans
  • Listeria monocytogenes / genetics
  • Listeria monocytogenes / growth & development
  • Listeria monocytogenes / physiology*