Validating the utility of multilocus variable number tandem-repeat analysis (mlva) as a subtyping strategy to monitor listeria monocytogenes in-built food processing environments

Nicholas Andrews, Evonne McCabe, Patrick Wall, James F Buckley, Séamus Fanning

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Listeria monocytogenes is a serious human pathogen and an enduring challenge to control for the ready-to-eat food processing industry. Cost-effective tools that can be deployed by commercial or in-house laboratories to rapidly investigate and resolve contamination events in the built food processing environment are of value to the food industry. Multilocus variable number tandem-repeat analysis (MLVA) is a molecular subtyping method, which along with other same-generation methods such as pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and multilocus sequence typing (MLST) is being superseded in disease tracking and outbreak investigations by whole-genome sequencing (WGS). In this paper, it is demonstrated that MLVA can continue to play a valuable role as a valid, fast, simple, and cost-effective method to identify and track Listeria monocytogenes subtypes in factory environments, with the method being highly congruent with MLST. Although MLVA does not have the discriminatory power of WGS to identify truly persistent clones, with careful interpretation of results alongside isolate metadata, it remains a powerful tool in situations and locations where WGS may not be readily available to food business operators. [Abstract copyright: Copyright © 2023 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.]
Original languageEnglish
Article number100147
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Food Protection
Issue number10
Early online date22 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


  • WGS
  • MLVA
  • Subtyping
  • Problem-solving
  • Factory environmental monitoring

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