Influence of environmental parameters on phosphatidylcholine phospholipase C production in Listeria monocytogenes: A convenient method to differentiate L. monocytogenes from other Listeria species

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



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Applied and Environmental Microbiology


The ability to produce phosphatidylcholine phospholipase C (lecithinase) is associated with virulence in pathogenic species of Listeria. Levels of production vary greatly among members of the genus, and this virulence factor is not readily detectable in many members of the pathogenic species on conventional agar media containing egg yolk, a common substrate for the enzyme. In this study, the influence of a variety of environmental parameters, including temperature, pH, and salt concentration, on the production of lecithinase by a number of strains was evaluated. Lecithinase production by Listeria monocytogenes LO28 in brain heart infusion medium was optimal at 1.75 to 2.0% NaCl, pH 7.0 to 7.3, and 37 to 40°C, and the presence of oxygen had no effect. In a chemically defined medium, the optimal NaCl concentration and temperature were lower at 0.75 to 1.0% NaCl and 33.5°C. As detection of virulence factors is useful to assist in the identification and differentiation of Listeria species, this report shows that lecithinase activity can conveniently be detected within 36 h on a relatively inexpensive medium. Under the conditions described, L. monocytogenes could be distinguished from other members of the genus as a result of distinct lecithin degradation which was not evident in L. innocua, L. seeligeri, L. ivanovii, L. welshimeri, or L. murrayi/grayi.

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