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Sequential transition of the injury phenotype, temperature-dependent survival and transcriptional response in Listeria monocytogenes following lethal H2O2 exposure

Ochiai, Yoshitsugu, Yamada, Fumiya, Yoshikawa, Yuko, Mochizuki, Mariko, Takano, Takashi, Hondo, Ryo, Ueda, Fukiko
International journal of food microbiology 2017 v.259 pp. 52-58
Listeria monocytogenes, bacteria, food pathogens, food processing, genes, hydrogen peroxide, oxidative stress, phenotype, refrigeration, sodium pyruvate, stress response, temperature, transcription (genetics)
The food-borne pathogen Listeria monocytogenes is present persistently in food processing environments, where this bacterium is exposed to various stress factors, including oxidative stress. This study aimed to elucidate the temperature-dependent response of L. monocytogenes to H2O2 exposure and the phenotypic changes in colony formation by H2O2-treated bacteria. Survival curves indicated an increase in the resistance to H2O2 in L. monocytogenes as the temperature decreased during the stress exposure procedure. Transcriptional induction of genes with key roles in response to H2O2, including sigB and kat, was observed at 37°C, but not at 20°C, whereas other stress response genes were induced at both temperatures. Following H2O2 exposure, L. monocytogenes produced small colony phenotypes and the colony size decreased in a stress exposure duration-dependent manner. Resuscitated cells with no ability to form colonies in the absence of sodium pyruvate were also found. Our findings show the possibility that a sequential transition in the injury phenotype from small colony phenotype to resuscitated cells occurred during the course of exposure to H2O2. The higher H2O2 resistance at 20°C than 37°C suggests further investigation of the response to H2O2 exposure under the lower temperatures, including refrigeration temperature, which may contribute to elucidation of bacterial survival over extended time periods in food-processing environments.