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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1991 Sep;57(9):2576-80.

Sensitive and specific detection of Listeria monocytogenes in milk and ground beef with the polymerase chain reaction.

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  • 1Animal Diseases Research Institute, Agriculture Canada, Lethbridge, Alberta.


A sensitive and specific method for detection of Listeria monocytogenes in milk and ground-beef samples is described. It consists of culturing samples in listeria enrichment broth (LEB) and subculturing them from LEB to listeria plating media, followed by DNA extraction and species-specific detection of the organism by using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). In developing the L. monocytogenes PCR assay, five oligonucleotide primers complementary to the nucleotide sequence of the listeriolysin O gene were synthesized and used in amplification experiments. PCR products of the predicted size, based on nucleotide sequence information, were generated with DNA from all of 72 L. monocytogenes strains with five different primer pairs. DNA from Listeria ivanovii, Listeria innocua, Listeria seeligeri, Listeria welshimeri, Listeria grayi, and Listeia murrayi strains and a panel of 47 bacterial strains representing 17 genera did not generate PCR products with the primer pairs employed. As little as 1 pg of L. monocytogenes DNA could be detected with the assay. To determine the most sensitive culture protocol to use in conjunction with the PCR assay, milk (10 ml) and ground-beef (25 g) samples were inoculated with L. monocytogenes at concentrations ranging from 0 to 10(5) CFU ml-1 or g-1, as appropriate for the sample. PCR assays on DNA extracted from growth on listeria plating media, inoculated with 24-h LEB samples cultures, were most sensitive, allowing detection of as little as 0.1 CFU of L. monocytogenes ml-1 or g-1 of milk and ground beef, respectively.

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