Since the food-borne pathogen Listeria monocytogenes is common in dairy farm environments, it is likely that phages infecting this bacterium ("listeriaphages") are abundant on dairy farms. To better understand the ecology and diversity of listeriaphages on dairy farms and to develop a diverse phage collection for further studies, silage samples collected on two dairy farms were screened for L. monocytogenes and listeriaphages. While only 4.5% of silage samples tested positive for L. monocytogenes, 47.8% of samples were positive for listeriaphages, containing up to > 1.5 × 104 PFU/g. Host range characterization of the 114 phage isolates obtained, with a reference set of 13 L. monocytogenes strains representing the nine major serotypes and four lineages, revealed considerable host range diversity; phage isolates were classified into nine lysis groups. While one serotype 3c strain was not lysed by any phage isolates, serotype 4 strains were highly susceptible to phages and were lysed by 63.2 to 88.6% of phages tested. Overall, 12.3% of phage isolates showed a narrow host range (lysing 1 to 5 strains), while 28.9% of phages represented broad host range (lysing > 11 strains). Genome sizes of the phage isolates were estimated to range from approximately 26 to 140 kb. The extensive host range and genomic diversity of phages observed here suggest an important role of phages in the ecology of L. monocytogenes on dairy farms. In addition, the phage collection developed here has the potential to facilitate further development of phage-based biocontrol strategies (e.g., in silage) and other phage-based tools.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Science
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology