The absence of N-acetylglucosamine in wall teichoic acids of Listeria monocytogenes modifies biofilm architecture and tolerance to rinsing and cleaning procedures

PLoS One. 2018 Jan 10;13(1):e0190879. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0190879. eCollection 2018.


The wall teichoic acid (WTA) is the major carbohydrate found within the extracellular matrix of the Listeria monocytogenes biofilm. We first addressed the frequency of spontaneous mutations in two genes (lmo2549 and lmo2550) responsible for the GlcNAcylation in 93 serotype 1/2a strains that were mainly isolated from seafood industries. We studied the impact of mutations in lmo2549 or lmo2550 genes on biofilm formation by using one mutant carrying a natural mutation inactivating the lmo2550 gene (DSS 1130 BFA2 strain) and two EGD-e mutants that lack respective genes by in-frame deletion of lmo2549 or lmo2550 using splicing-by-overlap-extension PCR, followed by allelic exchange mutagenesis. The lmo2550 gene mutation, occurring in around 50% isolates, caused a decrease in bacterial adhesion to stainless steel compared to wild-type EGD-e strain during the adhesion step. On the other hand, bacterial population weren't significantly different after 24h-biofilm formation. The biofilm architecture was different between the wild-type strain and the two mutants inactivated for lmo2549 or lmo2550 genes respectively with the presence of bacterial micro-colonies for mutants which were not observed in the wild-type EGD-e strain biofilm. These differences might account for the stronger hydrophilic surface exhibited by the mutant cells. Upon a water flow or to a cleaning procedure at a shear stress of 0.16 Pa, the mutant biofilms showed the higher detachment rate compared to wild-type strain. Meanwhile, an increase in the amount of residual viable but non-culturable population on stainless steel was recorded in two mutants. Our data suggests that the GlcNAc residue of WTA played a role in adhesion and biofilm formation of Listeria monocyctogenes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylglucosamine / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Adhesion / genetics
  • Bacterial Adhesion / physiology*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Biofilms*
  • Cell Wall / genetics
  • Cell Wall / metabolism*
  • Cell Wall / ultrastructure
  • Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions
  • Listeria monocytogenes / genetics
  • Listeria monocytogenes / physiology*
  • Listeria monocytogenes / ultrastructure
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Mutation
  • Phenotype
  • Stainless Steel
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Teichoic Acids / metabolism*
  • Water


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Teichoic Acids
  • Water
  • Stainless Steel
  • Acetylglucosamine

Grants and funding

This work was a part of T. Brauge’s PhD thesis financially supported by Region Haut de France.