Modeling and validation of the ecological behavior of wild-type Listeria monocytogenes and stress-resistant variants

Karin I. Metselaar, Tjakko Abee, Marcel H. Zwietering*, Heidy M.W. den Besten

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Listeria monocytogenes exhibits a heterogeneous response upon stress exposure which can be partially attributed to the presence of stable stress-resistant variants. This study aimed to evaluate the impact of the presence of stress-resistant variants of Listeria monocytogenes and their corresponding trade-offs on population composition under different environmental conditions. A set of stress robustness and growth parameters of the wild type (WT) and an rpsU deletion variant was obtained and used to model their growth behavior under combined mild stress conditions and to model their kinetics under single- and mixed-strain conditions in a simulated food chain. Growth predictions for the WT and the rpsU deletion variant matched the experimental data generally well, although some deviations from the predictions were observed. The data highlighted the influence of the environmental conditions on the ratio between the WT and variant. Prediction of performance in the simulated food chain proved to be challenging. The trend of faster growth and lower stress robustness for the WT than for the rpsU variant in the different steps of the chain was confirmed, but especially for the inactivation steps and the time needed to resume growth after an inactivation step, the experimental data deviated from the model predictions. This report provides insights into the conditions which can select for stress-resistant variants in industrial settings and discusses their potential persistence in food processing environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5389-5401
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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