Application of Whole Genome Sequencing to Aid in Deciphering the Persistence Potential of Listeria monocytogenes in Food Production Environments

Natalia Unrath, Evonne McCabe, Guerrino Macori, Séamus Fanning*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Listeria monocytogenes is the etiological agent of listeriosis, a foodborne illness associated with high hospitalizations and mortality rates. This bacterium can persist in food associated environments for years with isolates being increasingly linked to outbreaks. This review presents a discussion of genomes of Listeria monocytogenes which are commonly regarded as persisters within food production environments, as well as genes which are involved in mechanisms aiding this phenotype. Although criteria for the detection of persistence remain undefined, the advent of whole genome sequencing (WGS) and the development of bioinformatic tools have revolutionized the ability to find closely related strains. These advancements will facilitate the identification of mechanisms responsible for persistence among indistinguishable genomes. In turn, this will lead to improved assessments of the importance of biofilm formation, adaptation to stressful conditions and tolerance to sterilizers in relation to the persistence of this bacterium, all of which have been previously associated with this phenotype. Despite much research being published around the topic of persistence, more insights are required to further elucidate the nature of true persistence and its implications for public health.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1856
Issue number9
Early online date31 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This research was funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Biocide resistance
  • Genotypes
  • Listeria monocytogenes
  • Persistence
  • Taxonomy
  • Virulence
  • Whole genome sequencing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Virology


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