THE ROLE OF HABITAT STRUCTURE AND COMPETITION IN THE ECOLOGY OF LISTERIA SPECIES IN FOOD-RELATED AND OTHER ENVIRONMENTS

Sally Chiu (2007). THE ROLE OF HABITAT STRUCTURE AND COMPETITION IN THE ECOLOGY OF LISTERIA SPECIES IN FOOD-RELATED AND OTHER ENVIRONMENTS MPhil Thesis, School of Land, Crop and Food Sciences, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Sally Chiu
Thesis Title THE ROLE OF HABITAT STRUCTURE AND COMPETITION IN THE ECOLOGY OF LISTERIA SPECIES IN FOOD-RELATED AND OTHER ENVIRONMENTS
School, Centre or Institute School of Land, Crop and Food Sciences
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2007-12
Thesis type MPhil Thesis
Supervisor Professor Gary Dykes
Mr Paul Vanderlinde
Total pages 146
Total colour pages 16
Total black and white pages 130
Subjects 07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences
Abstract/Summary Listeria monocytogenes is a foodborne pathogen with a high mortality rate in susceptible populations and is of great public health concern with regard to food safety. The ability to grow at refrigeration temperatures during storage and at low pH levels during food processing has enabled the species to establish and sustain growth on processed food. Some food products particularly at risk of contamination by L. monocytogenes are deli or processed meat products, seafood, processed vegetables, dairy products and other food that do not require heating or reheating before consumption. The aims of this study are therefore to investigate firstly the prevalence rates of the species in high risk food products and a food processing plant in Brisbane. Secondly, to determine whether food isolates are better than environmental isolates at surviving the stress factors in food processing environments, or if their lineage groupings are a better indicator of their survival. Thirdly, to compare the survival of food and environmental isolates under temperature stress in co-cultures. A survey of more than 100 high-risk food products at supermarkets was carried out to investigate the prevalence of L. monocytogenes and other Listeria species in food. Isolates were also obtained from a food processing plant during routine tests. This study has found a low prevalence rate (under 10%) of L. monocytogenes in the processed vegetables and meat products tested. Other products tested included processed and raw seafood and processed fresh fruit. More L. monocytogenes isolates were isolated from the food processing plant (101) than from the food survey (25). Listeria grayi (73 isolates), a non-pathogenic species, was more frequently isolated from the food survey. The characterisation of those isolates has revealed their lineage groupings and REP-PCR profiles, which did not appear to be related to their sources. A selected group of 25 isolates were also serotyped for further identification. A larger number of lineage II isolates (70) were found compared to lineage I isolates (25), and were more common in food than the environments; while some (7) produced inconclusive results in the lineage PCR. The REP-PCR did not separate isolates of different sources, lineages or serotypes. In order to investigate the survival fitness of L. monocytogenes isolates whilst under environmental stress relevant to food safety, ten isolates from the food survey and food processing plant were chosen. Five isolates each from lineages I and II were subjected to temperatures ranging from 4ºC to 30ºC and pH levels from 4.0 to 6.0 for two weeks continuously, with their growth monitored by either optical density or plate counts. It was found that the isolates were most susceptible at the combination of pH 4.0 and 4ºC, where the growth of the isolates was completely inhibited. Again no relationship was observed between the lineage or the sources and the survival fitness of the chosen isolates. Due to the frequency of L. monocytogenes being co-isolated with other Listeria species as well as other food-borne pathogens, the relative competitive fitness of four of the isolates from the survival fitness experiment were compared in co-cultures at 4ºC and 30ºC at pH 7.4 in a small-scale preliminary study. The four isolates from food and environments were grown in broth cultures in pairs with the plate counts performed on antibiotic-supplemented selective TSA agar. The isolates were distinguished on agar supplemented with tetracycline which the isolates had acquired resistance to for this purpose. No significant difference (P>0.05) was observed between the lineages or the sources and the competitive fitness of the isolates in this study. The isolates always produced slightly more colonies in the antibioticresistant form compared to the wildtype form but did not seem to relate to the competitive fitness of the isolates. It would seemed that within the scope of this study, neither the lineage, serotype nor source of the isolates indicated any isolate with a better ability of survival while at low temperatures and low pH levels in pure and mixed cultures. However, other classifying groups such as serotypes, RAPD profiles may reveal possible co-relations, as well as a wider isolate pool. Furthermore, different stress factors could be included as part of an investigation on the survival of L. monocytogenes, as this study focused on food safety during processing.
Keyword Listeria species
Listeria monocytogenes
processed meat
food survey
growth
cold temperature
low pH
mixed cultures
tetracycline
lineage
Additional Notes Colour Pages: 74, 75, 86, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 99, 123, 124, 125, 126, 127, 128

 
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Created: Fri, 25 Jun 2010, 11:42:23 EST by Miss Sally Chiu on behalf of Library - Information Access Service