Host ranges of listeria-specific bacteriophages from the turkey processing plant environment in the united states

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Even though at least 400 Listeria phages have been isolated from various sources, limited information is available on phages from the food processing plant environment. Phages in the processing plant environment may play critical roles in determining the Listeria population that becomes established in the plant. In this study, we pursued the isolation of Listeria-specific phages from environmental samples from four turkey processing plants in the United States. These environmental samples were also utilized to isolate Listeria spp. Twelve phages were isolated and classified into three groups in terms of their host range. Of these, nine (group 1) showed a wide host range, including multiple serotypes of Listeria monocytogenes, as well as other Listeria spp. (L. innocua, L. welshimeri, L. seeligeri, and L. ivanovii). The remaining phages mostly infected L. monocytogenes serotype 4b as well as L. innocua, L. ivanovii, and/or L. welshimeri. All but one of the strains of the serotype 4b complex (4b, 4d, 4e) from the processing plant environment could be readily infected by the wide-host-range phages isolated from the environment of the processing plants. However, many strains of other serotypes (1/2a [or 3a] and 1/2b [or 3b]), which represented the majority of L. monocytogenes strains isolated from the environmental samples, were resistant to infection by these phages. Experiments with two phage-resistant strains showed reduced phage adsorption onto the host cells. These findings suggest that phage resistance may be an important component of the ecology of L. monocytogenes in the turkey processing plants.

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