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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2013 Oct;79(20):6472-80. doi: 10.1128/AEM.00759-13. Epub 2013 Aug 16.

Subtyping of a large collection of historical Listeria monocytogenes strains from Ontario, Canada, by an improved multilocus variable-number tandem-repeat analysis (MLVA).

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  • 1Laboratory Services Division, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.


Listeria monocytogenes is responsible for severe and often fatal food-borne infections in humans. A collection of 2,421 L. monocytogenes isolates originating from Ontario's food chain between 1993 and 2010, along with Ontario clinical isolates collected from 2004 to 2010, was characterized using an improved multilocus variable-number tandem-repeat analysis (MLVA). The MLVA method was established based on eight primer pairs targeting seven variable-number tandem-repeat (VNTR) loci in two 4-plex fluorescent PCRs. Diversity indices and amplification rates of the individual VNTR loci ranged from 0.38 to 0.92 and from 0.64 to 0.99, respectively. MLVA types and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) patterns were compared using Comparative Partitions analysis involving 336 clinical and 99 food and environmental isolates. The analysis yielded Simpson's diversity index values of 0.998 and 0.992 for MLVA and PFGE, respectively, and adjusted Wallace coefficients of 0.318 when MLVA was used as a primary subtyping method and 0.088 when PFGE was a primary typing method. Statistical data analysis using BioNumerics allowed for identification of at least 8 predominant and persistent L. monocytogenes MLVA types in Ontario's food chain. The MLVA method correctly clustered epidemiologically related outbreak strains and separated unrelated strains in a subset analysis. An MLVA database was established for the 2,421 L. monocytogenes isolates, which allows for comparison of data among historical and new isolates of different sources. The subtyping method coupled with the MLVA database will help in effective monitoring/prevention approaches to identify environmental contamination by pathogenic strains of L. monocytogenes and investigation of outbreaks.

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